Empleo rural decente

Strengthening rural youth employment through green jobs in Zimbabwe


Harare – FAO, South Korea and the Government hold learning event for Green Jobs for Rural Youth Employment project under the theme "Youth in agrifood systems - Green skilling for green jobs". 

Youth unemployment is one of the biggest challenges faced by young people in Zimbabwe. However, the foundational challenge at hand is the lack of decent and productive work resulting in various forms of labour underutilization. 

To respond and addresses these challenges, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the Government of Zimbabwe through Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development (MoLAFWRD) have been implementing a 4.5 years project entitled: Green Jobs for Rural Youth Employment (2020-2024), with financial support from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

In Zimbabwe, the project has trained, provided grants, business mentorship support, and wages to rural youths across six districts, namely: Chegutu, Chimanimani, Kariba, Kwekwe, Marondera, and Mazowe. In general, FAO acknowledges the power of youths in their diversity such as rural youth, indigenous youth, young women, among others are on the frontline to build sustainable and resilient agrifood systems and they are better placed to rejuvenate the sector with their innovations, uptake of new technologies and digital transformation. 

This week, project stakeholders gathered in Harare for a learning event to share project experiences, lessons learnt, and best practices learned from implementing rural youth interventions under this project. The learning event themed “Youth in Agrifoods systems – Green skilling for Green Jobs  brought together more than 100 stakeholders including the Korean Ambassador, senior government officials, project participants rural youths, community leaders, academia, private sector and development partners to reflect and share lessons learned from the different components of the project.

“Green jobs in agriculture can support the country’s economy, provide meaningful livelihoods to the young and old, support increased food security and nutrition as well as transform our agrifood systems into inclusive sustainable practices that can both mitigate and adapt to climate change. This learning event enabled us to reflect upon our journey, celebrate our achievements, identify areas of improvement, and pave the way for future endeavours under this project,” said Patrice Talla, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa in his welcome remarks, read on his behalf by Louis Muhigirwa, FAO Deputy Representative to Zimbabwe.

For the past four and half years, the project has provided training in soft skills and agriculture sector-specific skills, as well as up to two years of paid employment or entrepreneurial grants and mentorship support to rural youth in six districts. The project prioritized empowering rural women, with half of the participants being female. The youths received training in sustainable poultry production, agroforestry, agroecologyclimate smart-agriculture, and bioenergy, organic vermicomposting production, post-harvest fish processing, apiculture among others.

In addition, the project provided decent, green jobs opportunities to disadvantaged youth in rural areas in the five provinces it was implemented in Zimbabwe. This shows that the creation of green jobs in agriculture has the potential to deliver social, economic and environmental sustainability through innovative solutions.

“The project has fortified the capacities of local organizations, including farmer-based groups, NGOs, universities, and private companies, to further bolster youth engagement in sustainable agricultural practices. Going forward, we are steadfastly committed to building upon the successes of this project and the Rural Development 8.0 agenda to create even more meaningful green job opportunities for our youth. In doing so, we empower them to be the driving force behind Zimbabwe's agricultural transformation and sustainable development,” said Professor Obert Jiri, Permanent Secretary in the MOLAFWRD, in a keynote address read on his behalf by Agnes Mugova, the Acting Director Strategic Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation.

Project experiences, lessons learned and recommendations

The learning event was structured in a deliberate format to present project experiences and recommendations by the youth project participants. The recommendations spanned from strengthening project implementation modalities; to creating an enabling national policy environment, legal and regulatory frameworks to ensure continuity and sustainability of this project. 

The discourse of this learning event reflected on lessons learned and best practices. The key emerging take-away message from the session underscored the importance of collaboration. There was a consensus that each project component had its unique milestones with a strong appreciation of how collaborative approaches played a key role in yielding expected results, impact, and project sustainability.

The learning event presented stakeholders with the opportunity to listen to the experiences and the voices of the mentors, both from the technical and business point of view. This session highlighted the importance of harnessing technical skills into business models.

The event included a tour of youth exhibitions were key stakeholders had the “look and feel” of the real and tangible products of the youths. This tour demonstrated results from integration of interventions across the different components of the project which ranged from beekeeping products such as honey and bee hives; vegetables; poultry and green energy products. The project has been a success to respond effectively to climate and environmental stresses, showing that the global agriculture sector needs a fundamental paradigm shift towards a sustainable and just transition to green economy.

“Listening to the success stories, touring the exhibition stands and interacting with some of the youths, my conclusion is clear that the Green Jobs for Rural Youth Employment project in Zimbabwe has been an astounding success. I congratulate again, FAO, KOICA and the Ministry of Agriculture for such successful collaboration that has yielded tangible and far-reaching results investing in the youths,” reiterated His Excellency Jae Kyung Park, Ambassador of the Republic of South Korea in his remarks concluding the two-day workshop. 

The learning event was concluded with FAO committing to document best practices and recommendations resulting from the project to expand green jobs opportunities to more youths, to more communities, and to more districts in Zimbabwe.

Article from the FAO Regional Office for Africa