New Guidelines for Scaling Up Investments in Youth in Agrifood Systems in Africa

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the African Union Commission (AUC) have launched new guidelines to scale up investments for and with young people in agrifood systems in Africa, during of the 32nd Session of the FAO Regional Conference for Africa (ARC32).

The Guidelines for Youth Investment in Agrifood Systems in Africa provide practical steps to develop youth-focused and youth-sensitive investment programs that consider young people as partners in rural development, at all phases of the cycle of the investment program.

The guidelines are aimed at those involved in the design and implementation of agribusiness investment programs: governments, financial and technical partners, the private sector, civil society and young women and men themselves. same.

These guidelines are timely and we need you to take ownership of them. We need localized ownership,” said FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu at the launch in Malabo.

Director-General Qu also urged countries to get involved in FAO’s One Country, One Priority Commodity initiative in which agricultural producers identify a product, adopt international standards, enhance competitiveness and reduce costs, and countries are creating enabling policies to support youth participation. He gave the example of papaya in countries like Equatorial Guinea, which are sold at low prices, but which could bring big profits if marketed in developed countries which do not have the climate to grow fruit. tropical.

While political momentum and proclamations to mobilize youth-inclusive investment programs and interventions are needed, they are insufficient. We are making an urgent call for concrete operational action – the Youth Agrifood Systems Investment Guidelines in Africa have great potential to drive this process and scale investments in youth-focused agrifood systems initiatives,” said HE Amb. Josefa Sacko, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment of the African Union Commission.

A continent of young people

Africa as a region has the highest percentage of young people in the world, estimated at 420 million people between the ages of 15 and 35. It is a huge resource for future prosperity, but the challenges these young people face are many.

Young people are twice as likely as adults to be unemployed. The majority of working youth are poor and hold vulnerable and poor quality jobs in the informal sector.

In 2019, nearly two-thirds (63%) of young workers lived in poverty in Africa, compared to half (51%) of adults. Young people are also overrepresented among the extremely poor. In addition, young women, especially in rural areas, face gender-biased social norms, laws and practices that limit their involvement in paid work and seizing development opportunities.

Transforming agri-food systems can address these challenges, unlocking vast employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for young women and men in agricultural value chains and across food systems.

Young people are key to building sustainable agrifood systems

Agri-food systems are under pressure due to the effects of the climate crisis, chronic and emerging conflicts and the impacts of COVID-19, which undermines their ability to provide healthy and affordable food for all. But young people are resilient and innovative.

It is crucial to invest differently and to engage them as central players in the transformation of agrifood systems. This includes the expansion of automation, digital technologies and the green economy. Young people bring new ideas, solutions, products and services, new business models, partnerships and networks. Failure to invest in youth could lead to economic and social costs and threaten the sustainability of agri-food systems.

The Guidelines for Youth Investment in Agrifood Systems in Africa aim to accelerate investments in and by youth in agrifood systems. They recommend four steps for investing in youth: 1) Engage youth in the investment program cycle; 2) Assess and pre-design with a youth lens; 3) Designing with a youthful lens; 4) Implement and then monitor, evaluate and capitalize on what you learn.

FAO and the AU Commission developed the guidelines based on research, analysis of case studies of successful programs, multi-stakeholder consultations and a widely attended technical validation workshop.

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