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Gender-Responsive Investments in Africa

Women play a vital role in Africa’s agricultural sector. As farmers, processors, and marketers of agricultural products, they contribute significantly to the continent’s economic development. However, they continue to face a lot of challenges such as lack of access to agricultural inputs, finance, land, information, and agricultural technologies. Although women provide 70 percent of agricultural labour on the continent, they remain underrepresented; they are not treated as equals of their male counterparts in the sector—women farmers face the burden of unpaid work as well as lower wages compared to men.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), gender-related challenges faced by women in agriculture hinder women’s productivity, which reduces their contributions to the agricultural sector and the achievement of broader economic and social development goals. Similarly, a 2016 Africa Human Development Report suggests that gender inequality costs sub-Saharan Africa approximately $95 billion annually.

To enhance gender-responsive investments in African agriculture, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) convened a dialogue themed “Gender-Responsive Investments in Africa’s Agriculture for Inclusive Food System” to discuss game-changing solutions that will enhance gender-responsive investments in agricultural research for inclusive food systems on the continent. This took place on the 4th of May 2021. It was hosted by FARA jointly with the sub-regional organizations (ASARECA, CCARDESA, CORAF, and AFAAS), in partnership with the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD); as well as the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD).

Among others, the objectives of the meeting were to identify and discuss the main gender issues in African agriculture and propose solutions to a gender-inclusive private sector engagement as well as contribute towards a framework for advocating for increased investment in gender-responsive approaches in agricultural research for development.

Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive Director of FARA, who welcomed participants to the meeting, said that women and youths are crucial in African agriculture, especially in the promotion of digital services and commercialization of research products. Hence, Dr. Akinbamijo called on stakeholders in African agriculture to advocate for gender-responsive investments in agriculture and the use of gender-smart approaches when engaging women and youth in agricultural research for development (AR4D). He noted that “FARA is playing an active role in strengthening the capacities of AR4D institutions in Africa and in gender mainstreaming towards achieving the sustainable development goals.”

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FARA: Leveraging technology for inclusive agripreneurship development in Africa

About 60 youths from across Africa  gathered in Accra, Ghana, last week, for a 3-day agricultural engagement workshop themed: “Strategic Engagements and Capacity Development of Youth in Agri-preneurship for Technology Adoption,” aimed at leveraging shared experiences of youths to develop a framework for youth engagement with a focus on inclusive agripreneurship development.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), over 800 million people across the world are undernourished, with Africa accounting for more than 25% of the figures. Africa`s population currently stands at 1.1 billion with youths constituting more than 50% of the continent’s total population, which is projected to rise to about 2.4 billion by 2050. Although young people constitute majority of the continent’s population, most young Africans are either unemployed or underemployed and seldom consider agriculture as a means of livelihood.

Agriculture holds enormous potential for jobs creation among Africa’s burgeoning young population and consequently transforming the continent’s economy. However, African youths are yet to realize the profitable opportunities agriculture offers, as a source of earning sustainable livelihoods, hence the low-level of youth involvement in agriculture. Hence, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) – the AU’s body responsible for coordinating and advocating for agricultural research for development (AR4D) – aims to bridge existing gap in the involvement of youths in agriculture through the implementation of youth engagement programmes focused on addressing issues of employment and agri-preneurship in Africa.

On this basis, about 60 select young professionals in agriculture from across 26 African countries gathered in Accra, Ghana for a 3-day continental youth engagement workshop on the theme: “Strategic Engagements and Capacity Development of Youth in Agri-preneurship for Technology Adoption.” It was hosted by FARA jointly with Young Professionals in Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD), in partnership with African Development Bank (AfDB); the West and Central Africa Council for Agricultural Research and Development (WECARD); as well as the AfDB-funded Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) programme, amongst others.

“We [FARA] are here to support in terms of capacity development and technology outreach through the development of agri-preneurship so this workshop is about the process of agri-preneurship development,” said Bheenick. “There was an essay competition amongst youths in Africa, last year. In specific terms, the YPARD network asked them to describe their experiences on youth engagement in agriculture. The idea [was] to identify what works best for youths in Africa. We therefore selected 35 initiatives [based on the essays] and we are here to utlize those initiatives that have been used to engage the youths.”

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  • Ghana
  • Access to resources and capacity building
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FARA engages African youths on technology adoption in agri-prenuership

The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa`s agricultural engagement workshop on the theme: “Strategic Engagements and Capacity Development of Youth in Agri-prenuership for Technology Adoption,” and scheduled for May 2-4 2019 has commenced in Accra, Ghana.

The three-day workshop is being co-hosted by FARA with Young Professionals in Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD) in partnership with African Development Bank (AfDB); West and Central Africa Council for Agricultural Research and Development (WECARD); as well as the AfDB-funded Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) programme, amongst others.

The capacity building event, which is being attended by over 60 young professionals in agriculture from across 20 African countries, is aimed at developing a set of guidelines on strategic engagement and capacity development of youth focused on agri-preneurship as well as scaling of technologies for increased productivity.

“As you attend the youth engagement workshop, I urge you to leverage the opportunity to ask questions and form networks with your peers to strengthen the enabling environment for technology adoption,” said Yemi Akinbamijo, executive director, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in his welcome message for the youth participants at the workshop. “I believe we all came with dreams of the future we want for our continent but as we all know, the difference between dreams and reality is having a plan of action and executing the plan. We, therefore, encourage you to think outside the box on how we can work together to operationalize technology deployment [in Africa].”

In December 2018, FARA launched an essay competition asking youths to articulate their experiences in agricultural engagement initiatives across Africa, including the context of agri-preneurship. This was aimed at informing FARA and its partners better, on how to effectively engage with and feature youths and women in agriculture in the context of implementing the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP).

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  • Ghana
  • Promote agriculture among young people
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