Sector:

Optimizing Opportunities for Youth Employment in Africa’s Agri-Food System

In June Nono Sekhoto, the Sector Lead for AL for Agribusiness Network accompanied a group of 6 network members to Mombasa to attend this 4-day long foresight workshop on the future of youth employment in Africa’s agri-food systems.

The workshop involved 80 people, including youth leaders and experts actively involved in Africa’s agri-food systems and who understand the issues facing youth employment in the sector.

The foresight study is being undertaken through a collaboration between the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), AGRA, and Foresight4Food, with funding from the Mastercard Foundation and input from FAO and IFPRI. This foresight study will provide a critical and future-oriented (5-25 years) perspective on youth employment in African agri-food systems. It aims to support the strategies of development partners, government policy, and investment priorities, including Mastercard Foundation’s Africa Pan African Programme.

The outcomes of this foresight study will be disseminated widely, through a position paper as well as shared at key fora, including Africa’s Food Systems Forum (AGRF) in September 2023.

Here is the Agenda of the workshop showing topics such as understanding the agri-food systems through rich data, generating foresight scenarios for future participation of youth in the sector, developing pathways for change, and many others. Watch this short Video of day 1 at the workshop to get a session of what participants experienced.

Read more about the 6 network members who attended the session and learn about their participation and thoughts about the event.

ALDRED DOGUE (Anzisha Fellow, Benin)

Bachelor’s degree, Nutrition and Food Technology
Founder – Africa Foods Mill Ltd.
Agri Extension Assistant – Glo-Djigbé Industrial Zone Benin

How are you involved in youth employment in agrifood systems?

Through my agribusiness Africa Foods Mill, I have created 6 direct jobs and 30 indirect jobs within the smallholder farmer cooperatives. 80% of the jobs were for young people under 25 years old. With the support of AL for Agribusiness network I acquired training skills from Kucheza, which enabled me to train 20 young people on agricultural marketing and financial education needed to start and run an agribusiness. This training programme will equip young people with the skills needed in starting innovative businesses or to propel their careers.

How did you contribute to the workshop given your experience and knowledge?

By shared my experiences in creating employment for young people in agri-food systems in my community. I also shared skills gaps and the challenges faced by these young people in their quest for employment which I saw firsthand. I highlighted my perspective on a plethora of opportunities for youth in the job market and proposed solutions such as programmes encouraging youth to engage in agriculture and promoting skills development.

How did you benefit from the workshop?

I collected information on youth employment in agri-food systems from other workshop participants in their communities. This information provided an in-depth analysis of the realities of various settings on the African continent. I also expanded my network of contacts in the agri-food sector, which will be a great asset for future project development

COSMOS KEMAVOR (MCF Scholar, Ghana)

MSc Global Food Security & Nutrition, UK

Agribusiness Development and Partnerships Officer,
Peadato Limited Company, Ghana

How are you involved in youth employment in agrifood systems?

As a young researcher within the agri-food sector, my work is focused on informing policies that directly and indirectly create employment for youth. In 2019 and 2020, I worked with the GIZ Jobs for Youth project to provide entrepreneurial training and seed funding to some 3200 youths across Ghana. Post my MSc dissertation at the University of Edinburgh, I am consulting to agribusiness start-up capable of employing 20 youths directly and 30 indirectly in the next 12 months.

How did you contribute to the workshop given your experience and knowledge?

As a young researcher and consultant within the agri-food system, I made substantial contributions to the subject of youth employment. In my experience, I have encountered the challenges youths are presented with considering employment in the agri-food sector. My contribution came from extensive reading and experiences which exposed me to some pragmatic approaches to addressing these challenges. I also appreciated learning from other participants’ experiences.

How did you benefit from the workshop?

The opportunity to participate in this multi-stakeholder workshop provided me with a deeper insight into the subject matter of youth employment in agri-food systems and I was able to widen my network within the sector. The challenges highlighted at the workshop will feed well into my subsequent research works while the solutions highlighted will benefit other parties and entities in the agri-food system through my work as a consultant.

CHARRIET CHEELO (MCF Scholar, Zambia)

How are you involved in youth employment in agrifood systems?

Through this workshop, I was able to help other young people understand the different careers that are across the food value chain, which I have seen during my work experience. I was able to share my ideas of creating a platform where youth can co-create, be innovative, and build agribusiness skills that can improve their social and economic realities. I also highlighted the importance of relationship building as we partner with different stakeholders that give access to young people gain opportunities to gain experience.

How did you contribute to the workshop given your experience and knowledge?

I was able to share my experience of how hard it is to gain a sustainable source of income. I also contributed my ideas on how youth can start sustainable businesses and acquire the right skills for future employment. I also added the importance of awareness of climate change and how youth can see opportunities for them to be innovative in building solutions. These solutions can include adaptation and mitigation strategies that can be put in place to ensure protection against the environment.

How did you benefit from the workshop?

The workshop was a great platform for me to learn from other young people. I heard about the many wonderful things that are being done in other parts of Africa by young people and sharing experiences allowed me to broaden my network of co-creation with other youths from different parts of the continent. It was definitely a great opportunity for me!

LAILAT DE FATIMA JACINTO JOSE (ALA Alum, Mozambique)

BSc in Agriculture and Natural Resources Management
R&D and Technical Assistant at UPL Mozambique
Entrepreneur

How are you involved in youth employment in agrifood systems?

As a technical assistant in an agricultural inputs distribution company, I get the privilege to assist and influence farmers on their decisions regarding what solutions to apply, how frequently, and how much. The success of this work with smallholder farmers can help to create employment for youth.

How did you contribute to the workshop given your experience and knowledge?

I was able to share my experience of working with all types of farmers, I know their challenges, what brings them satisfaction, and how to win their hearts. Every moment with a farmer is a learning experience. I was able to speak about some of the solutions that enabled smallholder farmers to make a success of their work and increase productively, which could lead to youth employment.

How did you benefit from the workshop?

I was able to get some ideas and make connections to assist me in my journey of establishing an agribusiness that can provide employment for youth in my community.

RUMBIDZAI CHIPO HOVE (ALA Alum, Zimbabwe)

BSc. Agriculture and Natural Resource Management
Community Specialist, ALX; Founder: Little Oasis

How are you involved in youth employment in agrifood systems?

My dream has always been to own and grow a productive agribusiness. Last year just I started turning my vision into action and I now own a 2.5 ha farm in Botswana. I started producing fresh produce for the local market and I am currently employing two youths full-time. My aim is to scale what I’ve started and be able to employ more young people from my community.

How did you contribute to the workshop given your experience and knowledge?

Despite belonging to a marginalized group in Botswana, I am now involved in shaping the agri-systems of the nation, which is something I was able to speak about. I shared insight into how we can make employment in agriculture more lucrative, understandable, and accessible to young people. I was able to share my experience around how hard I had to work and the challenges I had to overcome to acquire the land, start the business and be able to employ those youths on my working on my farm.

How did you benefit from the workshop?

I enjoyed collaborating with people from different backgrounds and nationalities as this is an opportunity for me to join forces with other youth representatives and relevant stakeholders to map out the future that is possible for youths in agriculture. As an entrepreneur, getting to meet other youths who are policymakers and technical experts who understand and are making a difference in the sector was incredible! This workshop also helped to broaden my learning and perspective on agri-systems in other African countries.

LEONOR FALL (ALA Alumn, Senegal)

How are you involved in youth employment in agrifood systems?

Since 2017 after graduating from university, I have been involved with agricultural companies that employ young people in Africa. I have played different roles as a recruiter, manager, and trainer of youth in the agricultural sector from production to packaging to consultancy and advisory services for smallholder farmers in rural areas. My work touches both crop farmers and livestock breeders as well.

How did you contribute to the workshop given your experience and knowledge?

I was able to bring in knowledge from the Sahel region, where I have spent the most time of my career working with youth who are either employed or owners of a small agricultural activities. I could also share my experience in collaborating with young people in different phases of the Agriculture value chain and I believed my valuable experience was a great big contributor to the workshop goals.

How did you benefit from the workshop?

I was able to meet like-minded people from different parts of the continent who are also involved in the Agriculture sector and who can add high value to my network. I was also able to take pride in myself for contributing to the work that was done for the betterment of the Agrifood system in the continent.

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