IFAD calls for empowerment of rural youth

IFAD calls for empowerment of rural youth

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The International Fund for Agricultural Development has challenged operators in the private sector across West and Central Africa to curb youth unemployment, insecure land tenure and weak value chains as they are the main obstacles in the way of ending poverty and inequality in the region.
The Vice-President, IFAD, Mr. Michel Mordasini, disclosed that youth under the age of 35 account for 75 per cent of the population of the region, which also has the highest number of rural youth than any other region in the world. To him, empowering youth is the first step towards achieving prosperity in the region.
“The lack of social and economic opportunities for the large number of young people in the region is the principal driver of migration. However, by making the right investments – to improve infrastructure, secure land tenure and facilitate their access to finance and training, we can capture the labour and energy of the young generation to transform rural areas into vibrant places to live and work,” he said.
He revealed that the 2016 Rural Development Report features a fostering inclusive rural transformation that is a rallying call for policymakers and development practitioners to win the global war against poverty. “This systematic and rigorous analysis of the rural sector gives a greater understanding of what key investments and policy reforms should be prioritized to transform rural areas in developing countries so that people and nations can benefit.
“Attracting private investment into agriculture and the rural non-farm economy is vital, states the report, adding that many agricultural regulations in Africa, actually serve to deter rather than encourage such investment. Reforming the regulations that limit private entry and investment in value chains that serve smallholder farmers must be a priority,” the report emphasises.
According to the report, food systems are changing rapidly to meet the rising demand and shifting diets of middle-class urban consumers from grains to dairy, fish, meat and vegetables. In addition, continued rapid growth of imports shows that there is space for local farmers to grow their businesses if they can produce competitively.
The Regional Director, West and Central Africa Division, IFAD, Mr. Ides de Willebois, says, “Rural transformation is a powerful way to overcome poverty. We need to develop rural areas in Africa where people are willing to invest, which then will enable them to produce more, to attain a marketable surplus that can be sold at a profit and provide them with the resources to improve their livelihoods and reinvest.”
The report echoes with the African Development Bank’s ambition to transform African agriculture through its new strategy “Feeding Africa”. “Africa is now poised to take a decisive step to transform its agriculture so that it can end extreme poverty, hunger and malnutrition, become a net exporter of food, and rise to the top of agricultural value chains where the continent has a comparative advantage,” said Kapil Kapoor, AfDB’s acting Vice President for Agriculture, Water, Human Development, Governance and Natural Resources.

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