Empowering youth to engage in the agricultural sector is key to stimulate economic growth in SADC

Youth vital players in responsible investment in agriculture and food systems

Action is needed to enhance agricultural investments by and with young agri-entrepreneurs. Empowering youth to engage in the agricultural sector is vital to creating livelihood opportunities, achieve food security and stimulate economic growth in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries.

In this regard, FAO and the Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa organized a multi-stakeholder workshop. The primary purpose of the workshop was to identify capacities of youth to carry out and benefit from responsible investment in agriculture and food systems in the SADC region.

In a statement to officially open the workshop, Lewis Hove, FAO Representative to South Africa a.i, said agriculture and rural development were central to the achievement of some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The realization of the first two Sustainable Development Goals, the eradication of hunger and poverty by 2030 will require US$98 billion additional annual investments in the SADC region, of which 55 percent will need to target agriculture and rural development”, Hove added.

This workshop seeks to respond to a need for action which is “well recognized at regional and global levels”, Hove stressed.

Representatives from youth organizations, government, civil society and the private sector from Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa who attended the workshop identified policies, laws, organizational and individual capacities that are needed to increase investments by and for youth in the agricultural sector.

“By increasing our understanding on the specific challenges of youth in Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa, FAO will ultimately provide appropriate support to increase responsible investment in agriculture, which is urgently needed in the region,” Hove said.

Regional and global action to empower young agri-entrepreneurs

In Africa, most of the states recognize the role of the youth in agriculture. In particular, the members of the African Union have jointly committed to creating job opportunities for at least 30 percent of youth in agricultural value chains in the Malabo Declaration.

At the global level, the fourth Principle for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems of the Committee on World Food Security aims to “engage and empower youth.”

Enriching innovative tools

The Southern African workshop is part of a series of events co-organized by FAO in Africa, which aim to employ and enhance a rapid capacity assessment tool on youth and responsible investment.

The tool, whose development is supported by the Swiss government, will be made available with guiding notes in late 2018 with the aim to help interested practitioners carry out their own assessments of capacities for enhanced investment in agriculture by and for youth.

Twitter: #FAOCapDev and #CFSRAI

This article was originally published on FAO Regional Office for Africa