It is no news that Africa has one of the largest growing populations and from this expansion, Sub-Saharan Africas labour force is also expanding at a rate of 3 percent per year with an additional 375 million young people expected to reach working age by 2035. From these emerging figures and trends, the fact remains that agriculture is key to Africas present and future as it remains the sector with the highest number of employees.
Understanding this potential, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) has identified the need to develop inclusive agribusiness opportunity among young people and drive agri-preneurship through technology. This is in line with FARAs commitment to coordinate and advocate for agricultural research-for-development within the context of Africa food security agenda. To scale-up its thematic focus, FARA partnered with Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) to host a Continental Youth Engagement Workshop at the FARA Secretariat in Accra, Ghana. The theme was, Strategic Engagement and Capacity Development of Youth in Agri-prenuership for Technology Adoption.
The three-day workshop hosted over sixty youth from twenty-six countries across Africa. The workshop participants were drawn from different spheres of agricultural enterprises across the diverse agricultural value chains. See the full list of selected participants here. The workshop was organized as part of FARAs efforts to effectively scale up proven innovative technologies within the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT)s ten tier one countries and subsequently across the continent. The details from the conference are reported in details through the articles on FARA hosts African youth in agriculture and FARA: Leveraging technology for inclusive agripreneurship development in Africa.
As a participant of the workshop, I was excited to be exposed to an aspect of the workshop which revealed how young people could tap into and develop viable businesses in agriculture and agribusiness. This opened up substantial opportunities for employment creation across agri-food systems.
This was on the second day of the youth workshop when participants were introduced to the TAAT value chains and enterprise development within the value chains. This session was facilitated by Karen Munoko Nguru, the Agribusiness Expert of FARA. Karen made a presentation on Job and Business Opportunities for Youth within TAAT Crop Value Chains. Eight opportunities for engagement of youth along the value chains were identified within the agricultural sector:
In her further explanation, Karen analyzed that to develop innovative and creative agri-preneurs the entire agricultural value chain requires a comprehensive agri-preneurships framework which is classified into four phases as:
Phase 1: Mindset change through capacity development and agri-preneurship simulation trainings;
Phase 2: Business implementation through innovation to impact partnership and systems;
Phase 3: Meet the industry through knowledge management and decision support;
Phase 4: Social support through leadership for research management and program development.
Reflecting on the many exciting experiences and moments at FARA continental youth workshop, I affirmed the need for young Africans to change their mindset and see the numerous opportunities that exist in Africas agriculture.
In the closing words from Hlami Ngwenya, an independent consultant who moderated the workshop, she shared an image with the inscription Opportunityisnowhere and said many would read it as Opportunity is nowhere while others will see it as Opportunity is now here. This same phrase is enough to motivate anyone, especially young people to see the existing potentials and viable opportunities across the agricultural value chains.
Discussions, stories and chats from the workshop can be assessed here and the pictures for the three days workshop can be found on Flickr.
Photo credits: FARA and Nawsheen Hosenally (Flickr)
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