African Development Bank plans to make farming ‘cool for young agripreneurs’

The African Development Bank (AfDB), in collaboration with the Initiative for Global Development, the Association of African Agricultural Professionals in the Diaspora (AAAPD), Michigan State University, Iowa State University, and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, recently brought together stakeholders to discuss how to expand economic opportunities for Africa’s youth throughout the agricultural value chain, from lab to farm to fork.

In a session titled “Making Farming Cool: Investing in Future African Farmers and Agripreneurs”, held on the sideline of the ongoing 2017 World Food Prize Symposium-Borlaug Dialogue in Des Moines, Iowa, there were in attendance young entrepreneurs from Africa, private sector representatives, policymakers and thought leaders.

AfDB President, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, called for global support for Africa’s young farmers and ‘agripreneurs’. He highlighted how agribusiness is the answer to employing the continent’s youth. “Africa’s next billionaires are not going to come from oil, gas, or the extractives. Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment (ENABLE) Youth is investing in small agribusinesses today so that they can grow into large enterprises tomorrow,” Adesina said.

Through the ENABLE Youth program, the AfDB and its partners are empowering youth at each stage of the agribusiness value chain with plans to train 10,000 agriculture entrepreneurs in African countries, launch at least 300,000 enterprises and create 1.5 million jobs over the next 5 years.

He elaborated that attracting a new cadre of young, energetic and talented agripreneurs who will drive the adoption of new technologies throughout the value chain is a matter of urgency.

He added that recent studies indicate that as African economies transform, there are expanding opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship throughout high-potential value chains – literally from lab to fork – where consumer demand is increasing, including horticulture, dairy, oil seeds, poultry and aquaculture.

In addition, there are huge opportunities for engaging African youth in services and logistical sectors in key off-farm activities such as transportation, packaging, ICT and other technology development and light infrastructure – that add value to on-farm productivity and efficiency, in ways that could not be envisioned before.

The whole idea of connecting farms to markets, particularly rising urban and regional markets, is where Africa needs to plug in this teeming youth population, Adesina said.

He also highlighted major efforts needed to provide young Africans with new business opportunities, modern and practical skills, and access to new technologies, land, equipment and finance that will allow them to transition from subsistence livelihood into higher-paying work, whether these are on or off the farm.

“This is how we intend to make farming cool!” He said.

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Chiamaka Akuba37 Posts

Chiamaka Akuba is a graduate of Mass Communication of the University of Lagos, Nigeria. She is passionate about emerging markets and entrepreneurship and is actively working with the industry. She loves her conversations challenging and can’t help laughing when you call her ‘Honourable Writer of the Federal Republic'. Chiamaka is a Staff Writer at Outrepreneurs.

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