On September 30, 2015, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) launched the 2015 Africa Agriculture Status Report in Lusaka, Zambia. This report was specifically focused on “Youth in agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa”, highlight the challenges and the opportunities for African youth in agriculture. CTA, via the ARDYIS project, contributed two chapters on: “Innovative and Inclusive Finance for Youth in Agriculture” and “ICT and Youth in Agriculture” to the status report.
In justifying the focus on youth, AGRA pointed out a post-launch press release on its website that: “Youth participation all along the value chain is vital to the growth of the agriculture-based economies of most African countries – from agricultural research and development, to food production, storage and handling, to agroprocessing, through to marketing and distribution in local, regional and international food markets. African youth present an unprecedented opportunity to deal with the constraints and challenges holding back improvements in agricultural productivity. Channeling the energy, strength, and dynamism of Africa’s youth into productive, competitive and profitable agribusinesses (including food production) will boost agricultural productivity, ensure sustainable food production system, create jobs, and generate incomes. The impact of youth involvement and participation in agriculture and food systems will be seen in sustainable economic growth, and in the reduction of poverty and malnutrition across the continent.”
The chapter on “Innovative and Inclusive Finance for Youth in Agriculture” (chapter 4 in the report), highlighted the weak link between youth agripreneurs and formal financial institutions, including the scarcity of venture capital firms to support young entrepreneurs. It suggested alleviating these challenges for example through innovative financial means that required fewer or no assets or fixed collateral; such as contract farming, leasing, warehousing receipt, including socially innovative ways like crowdfunding.
On the other hand, the chapter on “ICT and Youth in Agriculture” (chapter 5) explored ICT for agriculture status and trends in Africa, and examined the roles ICTs are playing in supporting youth involvement in the sector. It also illustrated how youth are contributing to strengthening agricultural value chains through ICT innovations. It finallly discussed the current challenges relating to ICT use by youth (agricultural entrepreneurs, ICT entrepreneurs venturing in agriculture or other youth active in the sector) and suggested ways that those problems can be resolved.
In the end, as also expressed in the release quoted earlier, “the report is an affirmation and recognition of the prominent role of youth in transforming SSA agriculture and their vital contribution to engendering a uniquely African green revolution. Youth are vital to development and growth across Africa. The hope is that all stakeholders – whether from the public or private sector, or from government or non-governmental organizations working to transform African agriculture – will recognize the importance and potential of Africa’s youth and wisely invest in them to reduce poverty, end hunger, and ensure healthy lives and wellbeing for all at all ages.”
Download the full report here