The 2019 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group will be held from 11-14 June 2019, in Malabo, Republic of Equatorial Guinea. Find out more
African Development Bank, Initiative for Global Development, Association of African Agricultural Professionals in the Diaspora, Michigan State University, Iowa State University & International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
This side event will bring together youth entrepreneurs, private sector representatives, policy makers and thought leaders to discuss expanding economic opportunities for Africa’s youth throughout the agricultural value chain, from lab to farm to fork. During breakfast, a podcast/video/PowerPoint on youth, agriculture and training clip will run. Then the session will kick start creatively through a chat between two young agripreneurs, followed by formal welcome remarks by Dr. Mima Nedelcovych before a keynote address by Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and 2017 World Food Prize Laureate. Two panels of four people each will follow before concluding with a Q&A session.
Africa has the largest concentration of young people in the world. According to the African Development Bank, about 60% of the population is below the age of 35. These young people represent the bulk of the unemployed population, and three-quarters of them live below the poverty line and over the next 15 years 300 million young Africans will be coming into the job market. Lack of good jobs for the youth has become a major political concern and can be seriously destabilizing. While the agriculture sector offers significant economic growth opportunities, lack of access to land, finance, markets, technologies and practical skills are major stumbling blocks to youth participation. Youth often perceive agriculture only as traditional hand hoe farming, an unattractive option featuring hard labor, long hours and poor returns. The average age of an African farmer is over 50 years, and attracting a new cadre of young, energetic and talented agripreneurs who will drive the adoption of new technologies throughout the value chain, raise productivity and meet rising food demand is an urgent priority.
Recent research from Michigan State University indicates that as African economies transform, there are expanding opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship throughout high-potential value chains where consumer demand is increasing, including horticulture, dairy, oilseeds, poultry and aquaculture. However, major efforts are needed to provide young Africans with up-to-date practical skills, and access to new technologies, land, equipment and finance that will allow them to transition from subsistence agriculture into higher-paying work. One of these initiatives is the African Development Bank’s ENABLE Youth Program, a flagship of the Feed Africa Strategy, which empowers youth at each stage of the agribusiness value chain as agripreneurs by harnessing new skills, technologies and financing approaches so that the youth can establish viable and profitable agribusinesses, jobs and better incomes for themselves and their communities. For example, using ICT, young entrepreneurs have created digital solutions to specific agricultural challenges and created successful business ventures such as Mobis in Uganda, FarmDrive in Kenya and Hello Tractor in Nigeria, which are currently used by thousands of farmers. With the right skills, improved access to finance and an enabling policy environment, young African men and women can become proud innovators creating new and profitable agribusinesses. These youth agripreneurs are critical players in the AfDB’s other flagship initiatives such as the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) and the Transformation of the African Savannah Initiative (TASI).