AFRICA – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the African Union Commission (AUC) have launched new guidelines for scaling up investments for and with youth in agrifood systems in Africa.
The Investment Guidelines for Youth in Agrifood Systems in Africa provides practical “how to” steps to develop youth-focused and youth-sensitive investment programmes that see youth as partners in rural development, throughout all phases of the investment programme cycle.
The guidelines target those involved in designing and implementing agrifood investment programmes i.e., governments, financial and technical partners, the private sector, civil society, and young women and men themselves.
The recommend steps to be followed by the concerned parties include engaging youth in the investment programme cycle, assess, pre-design and design with a youth lens; and lastly implement then monitor, evaluate and capitalize on what learnt.
According to FAO, the guidelines were drawn from research, case study analysis of successful programmes, multistakeholder consultations and a widely-attended technical validation workshop.
“These guidelines are timely, and we need you to take ownership. We need localized ownership,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said at the launch in Malabo.
The DG also urged countries to become involved in FAO’s One Country, One Priority Product initiative in which agricultural producers identify a product, adopt international standards, build competitiveness and reduce costs, and countries create enabling policies to support young people’s involvement.
Africa as a region has the highest percentage of youth in the world, estimated at 420 million people between the ages of 15 and 35.
According to the specialized agency, young people are twice as likely as adults to be unemployed and majority of working youth are poor and employed in vulnerable, low-quality jobs in the informal sector.
In 2019, almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of young workers lived in poverty in Africa compared to half (51 per cent) of adults.
Youth are also overrepresented among the extremely poor. On top of this, young women, especially in rural areas, face gender-biased social norms, laws and practices that limit their involvement in gainful work and seizing development opportunities.
Agrifood systems transformation can address these challenges, opening up vast employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for young women and men in agricultural value chains and across food systems.
They also bring in new ideas, solutions, products and services, new models of entrepreneurship, partnerships and networks.
Agrifood systems are under pressure from the effects of the climate crisis, chronic and emerging conflicts and the impacts of COVID-19, undermining their ability to provide healthy and affordable food for all. But youth are resilient and innovative.
Failing to invest in youth could lead to economic and social costs and threaten agrifood systems’ sustainability.