THE United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is seeking innovation ways to make the agricultural value chain more attractive to youth in the sub region including in Zimbabwe to curtail ‘distress migration’ as well as unlock the potential of the sector in providing decent employment and improved livelihood.
By Farai Mabeza
In a statement FAO said that it is doing this as part of addressing Sustainable Development Goal 8 which calls for productive employment and decent work for all
“FAO has put in place several programmes aimed at dismantling barriers to active youth participation in agriculture in the sub region.
“In Zambia, for example, a joint FAO and ILO (International Labor Organisation) project, Yapasa, launched in February 2016, has helped youths break into aquaculture and created decent jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities for young men and women,” FAO said.
The project equips young farmers with requisite skills, facilitates loans for inputs including fingerlings and links the youth to markets for their products.
Yapasa FAO Portfolio Manager, Mpulu Makayi, said the project was vital because there was a ready market for fish as the country had a massive deficit.
In addition to being the primary source of employment in Africa, the agri-food sector hosts an untapped reservoir of new productive and rewarding employment opportunities. Beyond production, the development of the post-harvest section of food value chains, including processing and retailing, could have significant impacts on job creation.
Making agriculture more attractive to young farmers and creating decent employment opportunities in rural areas could reverse migration of youth to urban centres and abroad. The migration of youth to urban centres increases the burden on African cities and leads to the proliferation of slums.
Different actors in the agricultural sector are involved in a number of initiatives that seek to bring larger numbers of youths into agriculture.
The Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU) recently held the Zimbabwe Youth Agripreneurship Summit which sought to address local youth’s leadership capacity in agricultural projects.
The summit saw many young farmer leaders gather to be equipped with skills to help them succeed in agri-business.
“The Union is of the view that the future of agriculture lies in the hands of the youths and therefore there is urgent need to unleash their potential and energy in that direction,” ZFU said.