How policymakers can scale up agribusiness investments for young people in Africa

The African continent has the highest percentage of young people in the world. The big challenge is to create over 10 million decent jobs per year by 2035 to absorb this young workforce.

Agricultural supply chains and food systems provide vast employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for young women and men. But while young people are already transforming agrifood systems in Africa – harnessing opportunities and bringing new ideas, innovative solutions, products and services – they are often in low-paying, precarious and dangerous jobs.

A new joint investment case from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the African Union Commission (AUC) entitled Scaling up investments in agrifood systems for young people in Africa , What Policymakers Need to Know examines how to adapt and scale up investments for and by young people.

The note provides an overview of the recently released Investment Guidelines for Youth in Agrifood Systems in Africa, developed by FAO and the AUC. It includes guidance and practical steps for developing youth-focused and youth-sensitive investment programs that engage young people as partners.

“We want policymakers to know that through these technical guidelines, there is a useful and timely tool available to their countries so that they can create enabling environments and incentives for youth-sensitive investment,” said Abebe Haile-Gabriel, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa.

“The political commitment is there,” said Dr. Janet Edeme, Chief, Rural Development Division, Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment, AUC.

“In addition to contributing to the achievement of the youth-related goals in the Malabo Declaration endorsed by the AUC Summit in 2014, youth-focused investments and enabling policies can help young people overcome the barriers that prevent them contribute fully to sustainable agri-food systems. Agriculture must be more attractive and economically viable for young people,” she added.

The director of the FAO Investment Center, Mohamed Manssouri, echoed this, saying that “it’s not just about creating more jobs for young people, but better jobs and youth-led businesses.

“We have a global responsibility to accelerate the transition to greener, more resilient and more inclusive agrifood systems, and to invest in youth, including new opportunities in digitalization, agrilogistics, distribution food and climate-smart innovations, is key to this transition. ,” he said.

In action

The investment guidelines are organized around four main steps for investing in youth: involving young people in the investment program cycle; undertake assessments during pre-conception with a youthful lens; design investment programs for young people; and conduct participatory implementation, monitoring and evaluation, capitalizing on and sharing lessons learned.

To operationalize the guidelines, the first step is to make them widely available. The AUC, governments, financial and development partners, the private sector and young people all have a role to play in sharing these guidelines – from webinars to videos to podcasts – to raise awareness and spread the word.

It is also important to build the capacity of national and local stakeholders to apply the guidelines. Multi-stakeholder dialogue and workshops including young people are crucial in identifying how best to apply the guidelines. These forums can also serve as practical entry points for applying the guidelines when designing, implementing or reviewing an investment program, ensuring that the needs and aspirations of young people be satisfied.

Governments also play a central role in providing opportunities to engage young people as agents of change at every stage of the investment program, while encouraging collaboration across ministries and with financial and development partners.

Investments for and by youth in agrifood systems in Africa are urgently needed. The guidelines respond to this call by promoting their full engagement in the process. Young people are key actors in contributing to greater economic prosperity, stronger social capital and more sustainable agri-food systems.

This publication is available in English, Spanish, French and Arabic.

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