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Agribusiness can stem tide of migration in Nigeria, others, says FAO

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Jose Graziano da Silva


Creating decent employment opportunities for youth in Africa’s agriculture sector can significantly reduce youth migration from the continent, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva, has said.

According to him, the FAO firmly believes that if youths are provided these opportunities, they will not leave the continent to look for opportunities elsewhere.
The latest Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR), had indicated that agriculture will be Africa’s quiet revolution.According to the report commissioned by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), smart investments in the food system can aid the revolution if planned correctly.

Despite 37 percent of the population now living in urban centres, the report showed that most jobs have been created in lower paid, less productive services rather than in industry, with this service sector accounting for more than half of the continent’s GDP.“We have the means to provide those opportunities right here where you can see and participate in the future of your countries and the continent”, Graziano da Silva said.

FAO requested for the establishment of a youth facility, which would assist young people in addressing some of the challenges they face when setting up and expanding agricultural businesses. The facility would be piloted in Rwanda and later rolled out to the rest of Africa.

Approximately 65 to 75 percent of the people migrating from Africa are youth, many in search of employment opportunities. Tens of millions of jobs will have to be created each year in the Africa as the continent’s population continues to grow steadily. The agricultural sector including the related food systems and value chains can offer substantial entrepreneurial opportunities for the youth.

In his remarks at this week’s international youth conference held in Rwanda, the FAO Director-General stressed the need to continue working closely with a wide range of actors to support the youth.

“We have started with the first step and I hope that we will be together throughout the journey. When you are in a hurry, you go alone, but if you want to go further, you need to go together. We want to go further and we want to go with you,” Graziano da Silva said.

Among several challenges, conference participants highlighted factors of production such as land as one of the most significant barriers for young people wanting to start or expand agricultural enterprises. This was further compounded by limited access to credit facilities for young people across the continent.

Through an 8-point communiqué, the youth outlined their recommended actions for immediate focus; youth-led policy action, institutionalizing the youth conference (biennial), capacity development, reinforcing enabling and institutional environments, equipping rural areas with critical services essential for modern agriculture, agribusiness and value chain support, changing negative image of agriculture and supporting national youth platforms to share knowledge and best practices.

Urging the youth to reverse the often-negative perceptions associated with agriculture and take pride in being farmers requires the need to change the image and conversation around agriculture and shift the focus to the opportunities and profits to be made across the agri-food chain.


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