Local agriculture sector stakeholders have welcomed the new African Development Bank’s (AfDB) programme designed to support youth involved in farming activities. The AfDB five-year African Youth Agripreneur (AYA) programme seeks to support more than 200 youth engaged agri-business across the African continent.
The pledge was announced at the recently concluded African Youth Agripreneurs forum in Ibadan, Nigeria.
Lillian Uwintwali, the chief executive officer M-Ahwiii Limited, attended the AYA forum in Ibadan. She said the programme is timely and is optimistic it will help create more job opportunities on the continent, particularly in Rwanda.
Over 72 per cent of the Rwandan population is employed in the agriculture sector, and agriculture is one of the top contributors to national GDP.
M-Ahwiii is an ICT firm that is engaged in sector innovation and develops apps that help link farmers to markets in real time. The AfDB programme is targeted at encouraging more youth to get involved in agriculture and related activities along the value chain. It also looks to build the capacity of youth in agriculture and supports annual competitions to identify innovative ideas that could help boost the sector on the continent.
The move also seeks to create more jobs and improve the sector’s performance.
Already, seven local agri-entrepreneurs have embraced the programme and are hopeful the initiative will help transform the agriculture sector in countries like Rwanda.
Chiji Ojukwu, the agriculture and agro-industry director at AfDB, said the programme is also intended to boost youth employment on the continent.
“We want AYA to become a flagship element of AfDB’s key initiative for youth employment in agriculture,” he said, adding that the five-year programme would create the next generation of African entrepreneurs in agriculture. “Its overall goal is to contribute to job-creation, food security and nutrition, rural income generation, as well as improved livelihoods for youths across the continent,” Ojukwu said.
AfDB will work together with other institutions, including the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, to support the initiative, he added.
Ojukwu said the Bank will, in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, continue to organise the Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment (ENABLE) youth programme to support the sector and help to build a well-grounded, evidence-based understanding of the programme among key stakeholders.
This is geared at continued networking and experience sharing by sector stakeholders to attract more African youth into agriculture and spur employment opportunities.
This will enable AfDB and partners to improve the ENABLE programme and promote best practices in Africa, he added. The ENABLE youth programme has provided evidence that youth can become the driving force in agricultural transformation in Africa if they are given necessary support “given their passion and energy.”
Speaking at the conference, Nteranya Sanginga, the director general of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, said the organisation will support initiatives that ensure that the young people on the continent contribute to the transformation of African agriculture through agribusiness and value chain development.