Youth and Agriculture in Africa conference to be held in Rwanda

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations is to host the Youth and Agriculture in Africa conference to discuss ways to leverage on Information Communication Technology and entrepreneurship to promote agriculture in Africa.

Slated for August 20-21 in Kigali, Rwanda, the programme is under the theme, ‘Youth employment in agriculture as a solid solution to ending hunger and poverty in Africa:  Engaging through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and entrepreneurship.’

It is expected to attract about 500 participants including policy makers, private sector, civil society, development partners, research, academia and especially the youth engaged in agriculture to discuss how to attract the youth into agriculture.

Speaking to reporters about the impending programme in Kigali in Accra at the weekend, the FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, Bukur Tijani said agriculture represented a sterling opportunity for Africa to end the growing youth unemployment and increasing youth migration in Africa.

“Agriculture has an extremely valuable and untapped potential to solve the youth unemployment challenge,” he said.

Particularly on Ghana, Mr Tijani said the sector could create jobs for the youth and help the country to reduce its food imports, indicating that Ghana could save more than $500 million every year on rice imports alone if the country was self-sufficient in the staple.

According to him, the youth under 25 years currently constituted about 60 per cent of Africa’s 1.2 billion populations, adding that Africa’s unemployed youth between the ages of 15-24 years old was expected to more than double in the coming decade.

He said there was the need to create 350 million new jobs by 2035 to meet the continent’s growing population.

Mr Tijani stressed that the need to focus on agriculture continued to feature prominently in the regional and international meetings of the FAO and that was the reason why the FAO was convening the Youth and Agriculture in Africa conference.

He said the role of FAO was to develop a strong enabling environment in which young people could thrive and seize current and future decent rural employment opportunities and supports governments in the design and implementation of strategies that more effectively targets the rural youth.

He averred that the youth were key partners and powerful catalyst of change in combined efforts to promote more and better employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young people in agriculture in Africa.

Mr Tijani said the conference would focus on developing strategies to use ICT to promote agriculture in Africa.

By Kingsley Asare

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