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I am John Atsu Agbolosoo, a Ghanaian student currently pursuing a Master of Science in Agri-Enterprise Development at Egerton University in Kenya under sponsorship from the TAGDev (Transforming African Agricultural Universities to meaningfully contribute to Africa’s growth and development)Programme. TAGDev is a joint initiative of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) and the Mastercard Foundation.

Soon after enrolling for my masters’ in 2017, I decided to start a pig business in Ghana because of my love for pigs. It has always been my dream to raise pigs in my community for high quality pork and sausages, and also offer consultancy services for pig farmers at a low cost. The other aim of starting the business was to reduce the high youth unemployment rate in my community which leads to crimes like armed robbery.

Mobile apps and ICT platforms have potential to transform farmers’ lives by vastly improving access to markets and the performance of the agricultural sector. However, there are several challenges that can limit the success of apps targeting smallholder farmers. Read more about the opinion of Ken Lohento, Senior ICT4Ag Programme Coordinator at CTA, on the viability of e-agri apps.

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When he was 11, Oscar Ekponimo was so hungry he would stare at the kitchen cupboards in his home in Calabar, Nigeria, wishing they would magically fill with food. His father had stopped working after a partial stroke, and his mother earned so little as a nurse that he and his siblings ate just one substantial meal every two days. “My mom used to remind us that the hunger was not forever,” he said. “That always kept me going.”

Now 30 and a skilled software engineer living in Abuja, Ekponimo is working to ensure others do not suffer as he did. He has developed an app called Chowberry, which connects grocery stores and supermarkets with NGOs and charities to put wasted or leftover food to use. As packaged food items near the end of their shelf life, the app initiates discounts that grow larger the longer the products remain unsold. Local aid groups and other selected nonprofits are alerted about these discounts and also when supermarkets are giving food away for free. Food that would otherwise have gone in the trash is instead distributed to orphanages and needy families.

Youth vital players in responsible investment in agriculture and food systems

Action is needed to enhance agricultural investments by and with young agri-entrepreneurs. Empowering youth to engage in the agricultural sector is vital to creating livelihood opportunities, achieve food security and stimulate economic growth in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries.

Globally, there are an estimated 1.8 billion young people between 10 to 24 years old. Of these, approximately 90 percent live in the developing world, and mostly in rural areas. Yet often, rural young people are poorly understood in research compared to more ‘visible’ groups, such as urban youth, particularly in Western countries. 

This is of special concern to research partnerships such as CGIAR, because young people play critical roles in rural households and environmental transformations, but their interests are often inadequately addressed in programs and policies. However, as a significant social group now and in the future, their aspirations, dreams, opportunities and the particular challenges they face in rural areas deserve to be studied and understood in their own right.