Africa’s Youth Outline their Priorities for an Inclusive Agricultural Transformation
Youth comprise the biggest demographic in Africa, with nearly 60 percent of the continent’s population being under 25 years. To get the views of this group in informing the creation of resilient and sustainable food systems in Africa, a Youth Townhall was held at the AGRF 2021 Summit in Nairobi Kenya on Thursday September 9, 2021.
The Townhall provided an opportunity for young people to present their issues, challenges, aspirations to government ministers for policy consideration.
“The Townhall gives us a point of learning to exchange the ideas that we have as a continent, to learn from each other and see what we can collectively implement for the benefit of our children,” said Anne Nyaga, the Chief Administrative Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.
In her speech, Ms. Nyaga spotlighted the 4-K Clubs, a new policy recently approved by Kenyan government, with the aim of resuming agricultural learning and clubs at both the primary and secondary school levels.
Meanwhile, Rwanda’s Minister for Youth, Sports and Culture, Rosemary Mbabazi spoke of her government’s investments in encouraging youth participation in agriculture. Ms. Mbabazi noted that the high number of youth in Africa can be actively used to transform the region’s economic prospects.
“We (Rwanda) look at our large number of youth as a key asset rather than a liability because of their agility, flexibility, ability to adapt and their will to impact communities, as well as their risk aversiveness and their innovativeness,” she said.
Sharing Mbabazi’s sentiments, Yaw Frimpong Addo, Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture underscored the need for Africa’s governments to commit resources in supporting youth agripreneurs. He intimated that his government’s Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) flagship has a strong youth component, which has dedicated investments to helping young farmers’ gain agricultural education.
“About 125 youth are as we speak in Israel learning about greenhouse technology through a paid internship organized by our various universities…We have also set up three large greenhouse farming sites to encourage the youth to go into agriculture,” he said.
The townhall ended with a call to action from various youth participants, who spoke out their priorities for an inclusive agricultural transformation.
“My call to action is for governments to involve the youth in policy making and policy decisions; the only way you can get the young people to drive agricultural transformation is by involving them in every step of the way,” said Joseph Mathenge, an advocate of the high court in Kenya and a farmer.
Dorcas Omole, a Research Fellow at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), on her part, urged policy makers to incorporate agricultural skills in rural education, “and to make the transfer of land to women less problematic.”
The youth townhall is an annual event at the AGRF, curated and organized by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) in collaboration with relevant ecosystem partners. The event is conducted under the Youth entrepreneur platform of the AGRF.