According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa’s agribusiness will be the continent’s “new oil” and is set to reach €880 billion in value by 2030. The continent holds about 65 % of the world’s most arable uncultivated land while it is importing over $35 billion in food a year. Like the informal sector, agriculture is widely considered as a field that only those who are unsuccessful in their academics engage in. However, a new generation of agripreneurs is emerging.
Addressing demographic and unemployment challenges
Agriculture offers job opportunities, addresses food security, sustainable productivity as well as climate change adaptation and mitigation. However, in a region where most agriculture is still for subsistence, farming is often seen as a synonym for poverty. This has resulted in the reluctance of many young people to get into this sector.
Africa has the largest and fastest-growing population of young people in the world, of which 70% reside in rural areas. While farmers are ageing, young people leave for cities in search of jobs, where they are 2 to 3 times more likely than other age groups to be unemployed or get vulnerable jobs in the informal sector.
The case of Ghana
A growing number of young, college-educated Africans are now seeking to professionalize farming, by applying scientific approaches and data-crunching apps. Ghana offers a good example of this trend, as agripreneurs benefited from government support.
For example, Emmanuel Ansah-Amprofi was working in immigration law, when he discovered that the onion he was buying in a local market had been imported from Holland. In 2016, he started a farm growing a variety of fruits and vegetables, and later started Trotro Tractor, an app that lets farmers rent shareable tractors.
Unlocking the potential of agriculture
AGRA (A Green Revolution in Africa), an organization offering financial support and training to farming households across Africa, identified 3 main challenges to realize the full potential of agriculture for youth employment and scale up this “agripreneurial” trend:
- Outreach and attractiveness: Access and information are key to make this sector attractive to the youth, by using digital platforms.
- Skill development, especially by creating accreditation and certification for the informal sector.
- Access to land and finance, through government support and through incubation programs. Reducing the specific barriers faced by women is also crucial.
Under the Feed Africa and Jobs for Youth in Africa strategies, the African Development Bank aims to demonstrate that youth can become the driving force of agricultural transformation in Africa : the 3rd African Youth Agripreneur Forum (AYAF) Conference and AgriPitch Competition will be held in Cape Town, South Africa from 24th – 28th June 2019 under the theme: “Climate Smart Agriculture: Business and Employment Opportunities for Africa’s Youth”. This annual event is expected to attract over 200 participants from across the continent including young agripreneurs, agribusiness companies, investors, environmentalists, academia, development partners and government agencies.
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