The half-day event attracted a variety of practitioners, including representatives from the Embassy of Finland, AgriProFocus, ICCO- cooperation, IFAD, the United Nations World Food Programme, the Digital Rogue Society Experiment Group, NIRAS AgroBIg, World Vision, Plan International, ASDA, the French Embassy in Ethiopia, MEAE France, and UN-Habitat/GLTN. The key role, however, was played by twelve young agripreneurs from Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Niger, Chad, Zambia, Botswana and Cameroon, who shared experiences about their professional every-day lives and highlighted the challenges and needs of making a living in rural areas.
The side event was organized back-to-back to the Youth Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment (YES!) Forum 2019 along the side-lines of the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) and the Africa Industrialization Week (18 – 22 November), which was also held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. France’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MEAE), a Global Donor Platform member provided funding for the event, which submitted the major points taken from the discussions of young African agripreneurs and donors directly to the YES! Forum, which took place one day later at African Union headquarters and attracted hundreds of participants.
In his keynote address, Emmanuel Besnier, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of France in Ethiopia, affirmed that France is committed to sharing in the mobilization to fight against hunger and poverty experienced by young people in rural areas, and is dedicated to creating decent employment them. Besnier added that the side event fully resonates with the fourth objective of the new French strategy for Food, Nutrition, and Sustainable Agriculture, “Support the structuring of sustainable agri-food sectors to promote the creation of decent jobs in rural areas, particularly for youth”. The strategy sets the guidelines for all of France’s international development actions.
Different perspectives, different approaches
After the Global Donor Platform’ Secretariat informed the participants about the activities and objectives of its Rural Youth Thematic Working Group, Oriane Barthélemy of MEAE France gave a presentation on the G7 framework on Decent Job Creation for Rural Youth in the Sahel. The G7 framework will focus on supporting opportunities and strengthening rural youth capabilities for decent jobs.
Peter Wobst of FAO gave a presentation on technical tools and approaches for youth employment in rural areas with examples from FAO’s work. FAO’s mandate includes tackling the challenges faced by young rural people, including education, skills, access to productive resources, and most importantly, the inclusion of young people in policy dialogue. The presentation also covered their Integrated Country Approach, which addresses the demand and supply side of employment creation by promoting an enabling environment and enhancing the capabilities of young people in food systems with approaches adapted to different country contexts.
A presentation from Isidora Markicevic, from UN-Habitat/GLTN, gave insights into their youth and land responsiveness criteria. The criteria is a simple and practical method to assess the capacity of land-related assumptions, policies, frameworks and projects to respond to the needs and concerns of youth regarding land. It has five main categories of questions and themes: (1) youth recognition; (2) land information; (3) land governance and participation; (4) inclusive land policies; and 5) land use and access.
Fruitful panel discussion
The event also featured a panel discussion that brought together different panellists including youth representatives and development partners and practitioners. The panellists were Sarah Assefa of AgriProFocus (Ethiopia), Oriane Barthélemy of the MEAE France, Fatime Africa of Africa Youth in Agriculture Association (Chad), and Justus Muli from Kibwezi Hortipreneurs Youth Group (Kenya), who looked at challenges and approaches to decent job creation for young people.
The side event featured a breakout session where participants held round table discussions on different areas affecting decent job creation for rural youth. They developed concrete ideas on four topics:
Strategies to meaningfully engage youth in the development process – project implementation and design
Overcoming skill constraints faced by rural youth
Facilitation of access and ownership of land as a production resource for rural youth
Connecting young family farmers to markets and upstream and downstream micro small & medium enterprises (MSMEs)
The eye-level discussions with youth representatives helped donor representatives and practitioners from implementing organisations gain first-hand insight on the experiences of youth in different country situations and allowed them to understand what type of interventions would be appropriate to address the issues raised. For example, participants talked about equipping youth with various skills and noted that there is a big difference between education systems, youth interests, and aspiration. There was a consensus that youth also need to develop personal and business skills, not only production skills.
The conversation around youth and access to land also brought to light the difference challenges in accessing land in different areas. Youths in Nigeria tend to sell their land to developer and refrain from agricultural activities, as they doubt that they can make a decent income from farming. In Chad, land is owned by men, prohibiting access to women. Additionally, in Kenya, it is easy to lease land for agriculture but once one has worked to make it productive, the owner can easily take it back after realising its productive potential.
More than 2 billion people or 26% of the world’s population are said to be food insecure. Although poverty in rural areas is greatly linked with low labour productivity particularly in the agricultural sector, the lack of decent job opportunities is another major driver of poverty. It is expected that 440 million young people will enter the job market by 2030. In many regions, a considerable amount of young people lives in rural areas. This creates a large labour force that is out on the search for jobs. In the Sahel for example, experts expect the labour force to increase by 46 million young people (15-35 years old) by 2050.
Many of these rural areas are highly productive and sustainable food systems have the potential to become an even bigger provider of jobs and improve rural livelihoods. However, young people face a wide range of challenges in food systems regarding access to productive resources like land, finance, having the right skillsets, connecting to markets, and climate change among others. Creation of decent rural employment is an important topic that is gaining a lot of attention with many practitioners running different interventions to facilitate the creation of decent jobs for youth.
More than 2 billion people, 26% of the world’s population, are food insecure. Although poverty in rural areas is greatly linked with low labour productivity, particularly in the agricultural sector, the lack of decent job opportunities is another major driver of poverty. It is expected that 440 million young people will enter the job market by 2030. In many regions, a considerable amount of young people lives in rural areas. This creates a large labour force that is searching for jobs. In the Sahel, for example, experts expect the labour force to increase by 46 million young people (15-35 years old) by 2050.
Many of rural areas are highly productive and sustainable food systems have the potential to become an even bigger provider of jobs and improve rural livelihoods. However, young people face a wide range of challenges in food systems regarding access to productive resources, such as land, finance, learning the right skillsets, market access, and climate change, among others. Creation of decent rural employment is an important topic that is gaining attention from many practitioners running different interventions to facilitate the creation of decent employment for youth.