Rome – The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) have joined forces to increase job and business opportunities for young people in the rural areas of Benin, Cameroon, Malawi and Niger through a $4 million grant made available by the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund.
The agreement signed on October 19 by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva and NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency (NPCA) Chief Executive Officer, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, will help the four countries involved draw up and implement policies that seek to boost the development of enterprises in rural areas, including through the transfer of knowledge and skills.
“This joint effort seeks to promote decent rural youth employment and entrepreneurship in agriculture and agribusiness, and it represents another important example of an Africa-led cooperation initiative that seeks to safeguard food security and livelihoods in the continent,” Graziano da Silva said.
“Attaining Africa’s Agenda 2063 aspirations to a large extent depends on the transformation of rural areas supported by capacitated young entrepreneurs along the food chain,” Mayaki said.
Project funds will be used over a three-year period, and will serve to ensure that young people, in particular women, gain greater access to the rural economy. This includes the creation of decent jobs, both in the farming and non-farming sectors through public-private investments.
The project objectives are in line with the 2014 Malabo Declaration through which African Union leaders pledged to achieve a set of goals in the agriculture sector by 2025. One of these is to increase youth employment in Africa’s rural areas by 30%, especially through the strengthening of agriculture value chains, while another was to prioritize and support livelihood and income generating opportunities for women and rural youth.
The project will ensure that Benin, Cameroon, Malawi and Niger have in place national action plans on youth employment and skills development in rural economic value chains. In addition, each country will pilot a set of Youth Capacity Development Projects.
Another wider objective is to improve policy dialogue among countries, regional organizations, development and resource partners to forge a coordinated approach to decent youth employment and entrepreneurship in Africa.
Africans for Africans
The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund was launched in 2013 as a unique Africa-led initiative to improve agriculture and food security across the continent. It includes contributions from Equatorial Guinea ($30 million), Angola ($10 million) and a symbolic contribution by civil society organizations in the Republic of the Congo.
Since its inception, the Fund has already provided financing for 16 projects in 38 countries including building resilience for conflict affected rural communities, reducing rural poverty through youth employment opportunities and building best practices to increase crop and livestock production.