Agribusiness solutions to reduce youth migration

Aquaculture systems and cassava value chains in West Africa

29/10/2018 - 

In Guinea-Bissau 80 percent of the population relies on agriculture for its livelihood and most producers, whether they are farmers, livestock owners or fishers, struggle to produce enough food to feed their families. Irregular rainfalls and volatile food prices contribute to food insecurity.

In this context, migrating to larger towns, to neighboring countries or to Europe is an attractive option for young people. And while migrating might appear to be an attractive alternative to rural poverty for youth, opportunities also exist locally. Pitche village is located in the northeast of Guinea-Bissau, only a few kilometers from the Corubal River, yet villagers lacked the skills or means to try aquaculture. Last year in Pitche things started to change.

Groups of unemployed youth learned how to farm fish in floating cages, while others learned to make a living by growing and selling cassava. With support from FAO, they set up three sites filled with 45 floating cages, ready to farm fish. “Young people like me now have technical knowledge and are ready to take full ownership of the project,” says Bacar Camara, a young man from Pitche employed in acquaculture. The project is called ‘Creating Agribusiness Employment Opportunities for Youth through Sustainable Aquaculture Systems and Cassava Value Chains in West Africa.’

Implemented by FAO with the support of the African Solidarity Trust Fund for Food Security, it aims to create job opportunities for rural youth in agricultural sectors and related value chains in the beneficiary countries. This, in turn, will lead to increased income among targeted youth, and help to stem the tide of youth migration. As of 2017, FAO trained 150 youth in farming fish in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria and Senegal.

The fish and cassava initiatives changed peoples’ perspective. Those who have dreamed about “escaping” their villages, now begin to see the advantages of staying. “I gave up the idea of migrating when the project started. Some of our friends who had unsuccessfully attempted to migrate to Europe through Libya have now returned and joined the project,” said Abbas Embalo who is part of the cassava growing initiative. The project is innovative in several ways.

For one, it is showing youth how gratifying and rewarding it can be to feed one’s own community. In addition, national governments are providing local experts, at considerable savings on expert consultancies and trainings, thereby allowing the project to support more youth. During each cycle, youth involved in the project farm about 90 000 fish or about 22.5 tons of fish.

Per year, this amounts to about 45 tonnes of fish. Bacar is expecting these results to continue and be long lasting. “We’ve had four fish harvests so far. With this money we’ve established a fund to sustain our activities once the project is done."

Resource partner: Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF)

SDGs: 2, 8, 16

Regional Initiative: RIF2 - Sustainable Production Intensification and Value Chain Development in Africa

Photo: Youth show off their freshly harvested fish, which are now being farmed in floating cages instead of imported - Guinea-Bissau - ©FAO/Mamadou Sene