Agriculture is a key sector in most African countries and accounts for nearly half of Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP). With rapid population growth in Africa in the past two decades, per capita food grain production has been reducing resulting in food scarcity coupled with imbalanced diets. A large part of the population has become malnourished. Agriculture in Africa is affected by risks such as climate change, increased market risk, and tightening resource constraints. With the removal of constraints to agricultural development, it is anticipated that Africa’s agricultural output will increase from the current US$ 280 billion per year to as much as US$ 880 billion by the year 2030 (AfDB, 2015). According to a World Bank report: “Growing Africa: Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness”, Africa’s farmers and agribusinesses could create a trillion-dollar food market by 2030 if they can expand their access to more capital, electricity, better technology and irrigated land to grow high-value nutritious foods (World Bank, 2013). National governments need to work side-by-side with agribusinesses, to link farmers with consumers in an increasingly urbanized Africa.
Africa has the largest population of young people in the world, with 226 million people aged 15 to 24 (UNEP, 2015). Each year, young people graduate from school seeking to enter the continent’s workforce, often with no success. The continent is facing a double employment crisis—a lack of jobs for youth, and an increasing number of young people in need of work. However, as the largest sector of employment in Africa, agriculture promises opportunities for job growth and economic prosperity. There is an emerging trend, where the youth are realizing that white-collar jobs are elusive, and are turning to agriculture to earn a living. Although there are opportunities in agriculture and agribusiness, African youth often do not have the necessary skills or access to resources to enable them successfully to earn a living from the agricultural sector, either through employment or starting their own businesses. It is widely expected that for youth to be actively engaged in agriculture, agriculture needs to be profitable and attractive. With climate change and increased climate variability, African farmers need to adopt climate-smart technologies that will improve higher yields, more drought-resilient crops, and livestock, including higher incomes and improved food security. With increased technological advancement in the agriculture sector, Africa needs to identify how to create employment for the youth by bringing them into the formal agribusiness economy linked to domestic and foreign markets.
It is against this background that the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), CGIAR Research Program on Livestock, the Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN), AgriProFocus, and ICCO Cooperation have put together an online discussion forum to dialogue on the challenges and opportunities for engaging youth in agribusiness in a changing climate. The online discussion will run for one month to commemorate World Youth Skills Day (15th July) and International Youth Day (12th August) and will culminate in a webinar to wrap up the online discussion and develop a framework for concrete youth engagement in agribusiness. The discussions will be focused on the following questions:
- What challenges do youth-led agribusinesses face in a changing climate?
- What are the business drivers of climate-smart agriculture (CSA)? And how does this appeal to youth?
- What career and business opportunities do CSA offer to youth?
- Across Africa, are there any concrete examples of successful or promising innovative CSA practices and technologies that the youth can learn from?
- Which policies and programmes should governments put in place to facilitate the involvement of youth in agribusiness?
- Youth in Africa and beyond who are interested in Agriculture and Agribusiness
- Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) network members
- CSAYN members
- Experts working with youth and on youth issues
- Private sector
- Development organizations including NGOs and CBOs
- Scientists (from national and international research organizations)
- Any other Agribusiness stakeholders
The results of this online discussion and subsequent webinar will help inform a study aimed at generating evidence-based, meaningful, and actionable recommendations to African governments, the private sector, and other stakeholders.
The online platform where the discussion will take place is at the Climate and Agriculture Network for Africa's website.