Harare – The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says Africa should make the agriculture and food sectors more open to participation by young people for the dual purpose of creating employment and ensuring food and nutrition security.
FAO recently launched its “Promoting youth engagement in agriculture and foods systems” to support this effort.
At the virtual launch, FAO Director-General Mr Qu Dongyu said, “Employment and engagement of young people in the agri-food systems is crucial for the future of global food security and nutrition, across all its dimensions.”
He also said, “We want to enable young people to be the drivers of the change they wish to see in the world. Young people are also highly concerned about transforming our global agri-food systems to be more sustainable, more resilient, more inclusive, and better for the health of people, animals, plants and the planet.”
UN statistics indicate that unemployment rates for youth are three times higher than for adults in all regions of the world, and a vast majority of unemployed youths are women.
FAO said if made more appealing and equitable, agri-food systems were a large untapped reservoir of employment opportunities.
In the Global South, agri-food systems are already the largest employer of young people, yet, they often do not provide decent and meaningful work or adequate livelihood opportunities.
Mr Qu noted the importance of focusing actions in developing countries, where almost 88 percent of the world’s 1.2 billion youth live, particularly in Africa, where over 70 percent of youth subsist on US$2 or less per day.
He stressed the need for radical transformation of agri-food systems to make them contribute meaningfully and sustainably to employment and livelihoods.FAO says this transformation should focus on social protection programmes; labour laws and regulations; young people’s access to land, forests, fisheries, finance, markets, digital technologies, knowledge and information; and a supportive policy environment for youth-led start-ups.