Different stakeholders in agriculture are gathering in Kigali for a two-day international conference to discuss youth employment in agriculture as key to the continent’s sustainable development.
The Government of Rwanda co-organised the conference together with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the African Union under the theme “Youth Employment in Agriculture as a Solid Solution to ending Hunger and Poverty in Africa: Engaging through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Entrepreneurship”.
The conference seeks to foster an exchange among stakeholders, including policy makers, development partners, the private sector, youth and women organisations, civil society organisations, research and academia on knowledge and best practices regarding the interfaces between agriculture, youth employment, entrepreneurship, ICT innovations in agriculture and rural development.
In her opening remarks, Rwanda’s agriculture Minister Gerardine Mukeshimana highlighted the need for mechanisms to make the agriculture, which remains pivotal to the continent’s economy, more attractive to the youth, through harnessing digital solutions.
“In Africa, Agriculture accounts for 32% of the GDP and creates 65% of jobs; this means that developing the Continent economies requires developing the agriculture sector. Sustainable solutions for decent youth employment in agriculture must address intertwined issues of making agriculture attractive to youth while maximising financial returns. This could be achieved through harnessing opportunities from entrepreneurships and ICT solutions.” Minister Mukeshimana said.
The same views were echoed by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, who emphasised the role of technology in making agriculture more attractive to Africa’s young people.
“We need to take action to make agriculture more attractive to young people. They must perceive agriculture as a remunerative and profitable sector and the dissemination of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in rural areas play an important role in this regard,” Graziano da Silva said.
Sharing Rwanda’s experience, Minister Mukeshimana highlighted different steps made in attracting youth to join agriculture including capacity building, creating organisations of youth in agriculture, land acquisition and financing. Over Rwandan students 625 students have benefited from practical training in Israel though a joint program between the two countries. These graduates have created cooperatives and work with farmers to increase productivity, the Minister said.
Among the side events to the conference, include the ‘Hack Against Hunger/Africa’ challenge where young innovators will develop innovative solutions for youth employment in food and agriculture across Africa.
Over 60 percent of Africa’s population is aged under 25, making job creation in rural areas crucial. However, despite its huge opportunities, Agriculture is increasingly being abandoned by the youth, according to FAO