During the African Union–European Union Agriculture Ministerial Conference that was held in Rome, Italy on the 2nd of July, more commitment was made to bettering the future for youth in Africa.
Guided by the theme, “Making Sustainable Agriculture a future for youth in Africa” leaders and experts agreed to major approaches to developing agriculture to influence structural transformation in Africa.
Reaching for growth targets
High on the agenda were discussions on how to support decent job creation for African youth in the agri-food sector and rural economy while ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources, supporting the implementation of Agenda 2030, the SDG’s, Malabo Declaration and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
These, according to the leadership require timely action from all partners.
“We need to act fast, act right and act more.” – H.E. Sacko Josefa Leonel Correa, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture.
Another of the major topics was the need to increase private sector participation and investment for which solutions, including policy adjustment were explored.
“The growth of the private sector requires a more conducive policy environment and for policy to be transformative, it must be inclusive.” – Roberto Ridolfi, European Commission Director for Sustainable Growth and Development at the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO).
Experts also called on more investment to tackle trends that also affect agriculture directly and indirectly.
“Africa has access to only 5% of the global climate fund while 65% of Africans suffer from the adverse effects of climate change today. There is therefore need to increase investment for climate change mitigation to protect agriculture.” – Dr Augustin Wambo Yamdjeu Head of CAADP at the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency of the African Union.
Focus on increased job creation
At the same meetings, the leaders and experts explored new opportunities for the youth and committed to increasing the same.
“The African Development Bank will quadruple investment in agriculture to US$ 24 billion over the next 10 years and the ENABLE Youth Programme is targeting the creation of 300,000 enterprises and 1.5 million jobs in the next 5 years.”- Chiji Ojukwu, Director Agriculture and Agroindustry at the African Development Bank.
With agribusiness incubation fronted as one of the vehicles for job creation, Dr Alex Ariho the CEO of the African Agribusiness Incubators Network (AAIN) presented the challenges and the new steps in approaching them.
“From experience with agribusiness incubation, we know that about 80% of businesses die in incubation due to gaps in required input. We are glad to see that even more strategic partnerships are being built both in Africa and Europe to ensure survival of these businesses, especially those that are youth-led.” – Dr Alex Ariho, AAIN CEO.
Another major step to achieving sustainable agricultural development and job creation, according to Dr Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is increased commitment to the Malabo Declaration that calls on increased investment in agriculture by African governments to at least 10% of national budgets.
Above: Bright future ahead. Youth who are benefit from AAIN’s new strategy for sustainable youth employment in the seed sub-sector of Ghana in companies supported by AGRA and USAID. In his presentation at the meetings, Dr Ariho highlighted the role of partnerships in making such opportunities available to many more youth across Africa.
These discussions and more that took place at the Headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) also set the stage for the forthcoming 5th Africa-EU Summit slated for November.