New technologies hold enormous potential in transforming agriculture and creating jobs for the youth in the sector, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Yara International, Svein Tore Holsether has said.
He said through new technologies, new companies could be created in the agriculture value chain to absorb the teeming unemployed youth on the African continent.
Mr Holsether said this yesterday during the final pitch of the inaugural GoGettaz Agriprenuer Prize held at the Accra International Conference as part of the Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) conference currently underway in Accra.
The programme which is a partnership initiative aimed at bringing the dynamism of youth entrepreneurship to Africa’s agri-food sector is on the theme, ‘Grow entrepreneurs, transform food.’
An initiative of Generation Africa, founded and financed by Yara and ECONET, the GoGettaz programme is meant to empower, encourage and support the youth in Africa who have developed innovative agribusiness ideas to scale them up.
The best two of the eleven finalists of the competition which attracted more than 1000 entries, would each receive a cash prize of $50,000 to support their businesses.
Mr Holsether said technology needed to be deployed in agriculture, to move from cutlass and hoe farming, to make the sector attractive to the youth and improve productivity and enhance food security.
The increasing threat of climate change, he said had brought to the fore, the need for sustainable agricultural solutions.
The Yara CEO commended Generation Africa for the initiative, emphasising that effective collaboration was what was currently needed to promote agriculture in Africa.
The Chairman of Econet, Strive Masiyiwa said he was excited about the energy of the youth in Africa to create innovative solutions to promote agribusiness.
He said technology was fast influencing agriculture and particularly artificial intelligence was already impacting on agriculture, stressing that AI was projected to contribute $13 trillion to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2030 and 2 trillion to Africa’s GDP.
“Technology is a tool in our hand. It depends on how we use it, if we deploy it early, we will bring prosperity to the people,” Mr Misiyiwa said.
The immediate chair of the AGRA Board said it was against this backdrop that he launched the campaign for the GoGettaz Agripreneurship Prize at the recent World Economic Forum to recognise and support the youth with innovative ideas to transform agriculture on the continent.
Former Finance Minister of Nigeria, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said agriculture held great prospects in addressing unemployment in Africa, and described the GoGettaz programme as a “wonderful private-partnership initiative” to transform the ideas of the youth into profitable businesses.
She said though it was not the business of government to create jobs, she said government could support the youth to support and incentivise the youth to create their own jobs.
The President of IFAD, Gilbert Houngbo called for interventions to attract the youth into agriculture, stressing that in spite of the huge potentials agriculture present, the sector was not appealing to the youth in the world of business.
He said rural urban migration could be controlled if the youth were supported to venture into agriculture.
The GoGettaz Agriprenuer Finalists are Leah Bessa, Gourmet Grubb, South Africa, Steven Betcha, Ngomalands, Democratic Republic of Congo, Piwai Chikasha, Alley Capital Group, Zimbabwe, Starlin Farah, Ecodudu Limited, Kenya, Bertin Fokou, Distributions Express, Cameroon, Bonolo Monthe, Maungo Craft, Botswana.
The rest are Lilian Nakigozi, Women Smiles, Uganda, Job Oyebisi, FarmCorps, Nigeria, Siny Samba, Le Lionceau, Senegal, Isaac Sesi, Sesi Technologies Limited, Ghana, and Affiong Williams, Reelfruit, Nigeria.
By Kingsley Asare