By Irene Gaitirira
Published October 25, 2017
Africa’s next billionaires are going to come from agriculture.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has come up with an initiative called Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment (ENABLE) Youth programme through which it plans to train 10000 agriculture entrepreneurs (agripreneurs) in African countries, launching at least 300000 enterprises and creating 1.5 million jobs over the next five years.
“By empowering youth at each stage of the agribusiness value chain, we enable them to establish viable and profitable agribusinesses, jobs and better incomes for themselves and their communities,” says Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of AfDB and winner of the World Food Prize 2017.
He explains that attracting a new cadre of young, energetic and talented agripreneurs from Africa’s current 420 million youth aged 15-35 to drive the adoption of new technologies throughout the value chain, raise productivity and meet rising food demands is an urgent priority.
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, oilseeds, 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 envisioned before.
The idea of connecting farms to markets, particularly rising urban and regional markets, is where Africa needs to plug in this bulging youth population, Dr Adesina says.
Farming, Adesina says, shall be made ‘cool’ by providing young Africans with new business opportunities, modern and practical skills, 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.
Africa not only has the world’s youngest population with 60% being under 35 years old but its 15-35-year-old segment of the population is expected to double from the current 420 million to 840 million by 2040.
AfDB, that says it is working with partners like 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, calls for global support for its ENABLE Youth Programme whose aim is to explore the ways and means of expanding economic opportunities for Africa’s youth throughout the agricultural value chain, from lab to farm to fork that Adesina says is the answer to the continent’s youth employment.