Youth employment should be at the center of any strategy to face economic and demographic challenges in Africa, the Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization José Graziano da Silva told a joint African Union-European Union meeting, hosted at FAO headquarters in Rome on July 2nd, 2017.
In 2014 alone, about 11 million young people entered the labor market in Africa. Fostering sustainable agriculture and rural development is essential to absorb these millions of youth looking for a job.
The problem is that young people see few opportunities in remaining in the traditional agriculture sectors that predominate in Africa as they face numerous constraints, such as lack of skills, limited access to resources such as land and financial services, as well as low involvement in decision-making processes. All these aspects turn young people away from agriculture and drive them to migrate from rural areas.
The Director-General mentioned five important aspects to engage youth in agriculture and rural development:
- Enhance youth participation and leadership in producer organizations and other rural institutions.
- Stimulate private sector investments to create a modern and dynamic agricultural sector and to build infrastructure needed for agricultural investments.
- Provide rural areas with better services such as electricity, education, and health.
- Strengthen the physical, economic, social and political links between small urban centers and their surrounding rural areas.
- Invest more in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to improve efficiency in farm work and facilitate access to markets, information and business opportunities, and improve the impact of rural advisory services and social protection programmes.