Decent Rural Employment

Integrated Country Approach (ICA) COVID-19 update


Voices of young agripreneurs

In March 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, FAO’s ICA programme launched a digital engagement initiativeCoping with COVID-19: voices of young agripreneurs” to understand the needs, coping strategies and proposed solutions of young agripreneurs in Guatemala, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and Uganda. Listen to one of them here: Video Sunday Salveri Uganda

The information and data collected contributed to quickly assess how rural youth were experiencing the crisis and to jointly determine what was feasible to act upon under existing FAO programmes. The initiative was extended from ICA countries to more than 20 countries throughout the African region and informed an FAO policy brief. Read it here: Africa’s youth in agrifood systems: Innovation in the context of COVID-19.

Key findings and highlights of youth testimonies were shared with UNDESA/IANYD and with Generation Africa Members Group. A blog by ICA’s Marzia Pafumi was posted on the Decent Jobs for Youth platform. Read it here: Keeping the food value chain alive: challenges and solutions of young agripreneurs.

On the International Youth Day, August 12, FAO published a web story (in all official languages) featuring stories collected through ICA of young people from Guatemala, Uganda and Rwanda adapting their businesses to the pandemic. Read it here: Meet the young agripreneurs who won’t let COVID-19 get them down

Country responses

Overall, the ICA programme adapted to the COVID-19 scenario through stronger uptake of distance learning, and short-term support to protect young workers (masks, gloves, information, sector-specific operating procedures), and sustain their livelihoods (inputs, and skills).


ICA supported the organization of three (3) national multi-stakeholder dialogues on youth-sensitive responses to the pandemic, specifically on:

  1. General challenges and possible solutions for youth in agribusiness during the Covid-19 crisis;
  2. Occupational safety and health (OSH);
  3. Youth and finance.

As a result, ICA is running a mask campaign distributing thousands of masks to youth champion farmers and employers. Further, the project is supporting the Ministries of Labor and Agriculture to develop standard operating procedures (SoP) directed to farmers and other agricultural value chain actors on how to protect themselves at work. Finally, ICA is raising youth awareness about available funding opportunities and is facilitating business dialogues between young entrepreneurs and financial institutions such as UDB, Stanbick Bank, UBOL.


Hosted by the ICA-supported digital platform for rural youth ChispaRural.GT, the programme organized a COVID-19 series of webinars with technical experts and youth champions in collaboration with FAO Guatemala Country Office, Ministries of Agriculture and Economy, national and local networks of rural youth and agripreneurs, among other partners. Find out more about each webinar and watch them below:

Inspiring stories of rural youth driving change in their communities are regularly shared through the Chispa Rural platform, don’t miss the next!


Following an online discussionon Youth in Agribusiness: Coping with COVID-19 in the context of a Changing Climatehosted on the Climate and Agriculture Network for Africa (CANA) platform and meetings held with Siaya and Kakamega county government officials, ICA Kenya conducted a rapid assessment on affected youth-led agribusinesses. In response to the assessment, ICA distributed hand sanitizers, masks, thermometers, gloves and hand washing points to 271 youth-led enterprises (of which 97 led by young women) to help them cope with COVID-19 health protocols.


ICA partnered with the Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum (RYAF) to collect youth voices through two special Knowledge Exchange sessions addressing the key consequences and potential implications of COVID-19 for youth-led agribusinesses. Those were conducted both in English and Kinyarwanda using RYAF social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp groups. Further to this assessment, ICA will conduct a feasibility study for the establishment of a network of RYAF e-shops and possibly procure cooling machines.


At the request of the Ministry of Agriculture, ICA Senegal signed a Letter of Agreement with the young agripreneurs network Réseau Africain pour la Promotion de l'Entrepreneuriat Agricole (RAPEA) to support business continuity planning based on the Business Model Modèle d’Insertion et d’installation des Jeunes Agripreneurs (MIJA) and supply of farming inputs. Online info-sharing sessions have been organized through Zoom with RAPEA and other youth networks, as well as online training sessions on Business Continuity Plan with experts from FAO Country Office and Sub-Regional Office. The MIJA training package on rural entrepreneurship has also been adapted with OSH and distance-learning elements – a new cohort of return migrants and youth agripreneurs will be trained by December 2020.