Africa Agriculture Status Report 2015 - Youth in Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa
On September 25-27, 2015, the United Nations is holding a summit at which the Sustainable Development Goals and their associated targets for the next fifteen years are to be adopted. The Goals are fully integrated and indivisible, but the first three (of 17) have a direct bearing on the central theme addressed in this year’s Africa Agriculture Status Report: Youth in Agriculture. The first three SDGs are to end poverty in all its forms everywhere; to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture; and to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages. To achieve these Goals in Africa requires the collective and all-inclusive effort of all stakeholders on the continent, regardless of which side of the demographic divide they represent.
Youth participation all along the value chain is vital to the growth of the agriculture-based economies of most African countries – from agricultural research and development, to food production, storage and handling, to agroprocessing, through to marketing and distribution in local, regional and international food markets. African youth present an unprecedented opportunity to deal with the constraints and challenges holding back improvements in agricultural productivity. Channeling the energy, strength, and dynamism of Africa’s youth into productive, competitive and profitable agribusinesses (including food production) will boost agricultural productivity, ensure sustainable food production system, create jobs, and generate incomes. The impact of youth involvement and participation in agriculture and food systems will be seen in sustainable economic growth, and in the reduction of poverty and malnutrition across the continent.
The “Africa Agriculture Status Report: Youth in Agriculture” is the third volume in this series. The 2015 report maintains the original objective of producing an annual series that provides an in-depth and comprehensive analysis of emerging issues and challenges being faced by Africa’s smallholder farmers; the series allows African scholars and development professionals, as well as their colleagues in non-African countries, to contribute practical and evidence-based recommendations and share knowledge that contributes to Africa’s food security. The publication has also maintained its two section format: a detailed narrative that addresses various facets of the publication’s theme, and a data section that presents country-level agriculture and economic growth data which reveal important trends in African agricultural development.
The chapters in this year’s narrative section deal with the current status of youth in sub-Saharan Africa and present the opportunities and potential that the region’s ‘youth bulge’ and ‘youthening’ generation brings to agriculture. Challenges to agricultural productivity in SSA, such as land tenure and reform issues, lack of capital and limited access to finance and credit, inadequate supplies of improved farming inputs, limited availability of new and innovative technologies and methods, untapped entrepreneurship skills, and limited public and private sector investment in agriculture and social infrastructure are all discussed in this Report. The significant opportunities in the agriculture sector that are available to young ‘agripreneurs’, and the progress that has been made in the sector to harness the skills and the potential of youth, are also presented in detail. Such opportunities as the use of improved technologies (high-yielding varieties and hybrids, organic and inorganic fertilizers, conservation farming methods, and appropriate mechanization), the rapid penetration and uptake of ICTs, innovative and inclusive financing programs and investments, entrepreneurship and agribusiness initiatives, formal and informal education and training, and the steps being taken towards a more conducive policy environment – all make Youth in Agriculture a creditable and timely theme.
This report is an affirmation and recognition of the prominent role of youth in transforming SSA agriculture and their vital contribution to engendering a uniquely African green revolution. Youth are vital to development and growth across Africa. The hope is that all stakeholders – whether from the public or private sector, or from government or non-governmental organizations working to transform African agriculture – will recognize the importance and potential of Africa’s youth and wisely invest in them to reduce poverty, end hunger, and ensure healthy lives and wellbeing for all at all ages.