President of the African Development Bank

Dr Nteranya Sanginga campions the cause of youth-in agriculture in South Africa

Agriculture remains the largest employer of any sector in the economy of most African countries. In view of this, the transformation of the agricultural sector in Africa holds tremendous promise for increased economic growth and creation of employment opportunities for the continent’s young people.

Against this background, the MasterCard Foundation organized a two-day summit tagged ‘Young Africa Works,’ on 29-30 October, at the Old Harbour Conference Centre, West Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa to bring together a community dedicated to finding solutions to youth unemployment in Africa. The summit was aimed at engaging young people, while ensuring that their voices, perspectives and ideas are heard. During the summit, there were various sessions where issues relating to demand-driven skills in agriculture; agricultural finances and organization; and mixed livelihoods in agricultural value chains were discussed.

Highlights of the two-day event was a debate between two knowledgeable scientists, Prof James Sumberg, a research fellow from the Institute of Development Studies; and Dr Nteranya Sanginga, the Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

Arguing for the topic; ‘Agriculture as a Sector of Economic Opportunity for Youth in sub-Saharan Africa,’ Dr Sanginga emphasized that about 12 million youths seek to enter the continent’s workforce but without success. He stated that although agriculture has lots of opportunities, youths are skeptical about the vast opportunities available  due to lack of access to arable land, credit facilities, practical skills, access to market and other core essentials for succeeding in agribusiness. Using the IITA Youth Agripreneurs as an example, Dr Sanginga argued that with the right skills and support,  young men and women could be productively engaged in agriculture.

“Given opportunities and incentives, and mind-set change, rural youth can profitably be redirected toward agribusiness, service provision and market-oriented agriculture, with huge impact upon their rural communities. Different models developed by IITA, AGRA, FARA, and CTA offer stepwise approaches to strengthening the skills of youth in agribusiness and are ripe for expansion and integration,” he said.

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