By Friday Phiri
In a bid to incetivise youths into agriculture, the African Development Bank-AfDB is next year set to launch a Youth Agriprenuership programme.
Coordinator for Special Initiatives and Lead Agriculture and Agro-Industry Development at the AfDB, Ken Johm says the bank has realised that one missing component in Africa’s agriculture development is the lack of youth involvement.
Johm says the bank has therefore designed an Agriprenuership programme starting 2015 to get young people on board through the agro-inputs supply chains.
“We are launching a new agriprenuership programme to bring in young entrepreneurs in the agriculture supply chains. We have realised that most youths are still shunning agriculture, hence our intervention to try and encourage energetic blood to see agriculture as a business”, Johm said.
He disclosed that the bank’s new agriculture policy for 2015 to 2019 is tilted towards innovations such as irrigation that are aimed at encouraging growth of the agriculture sector amid the climate related challenges that have emerged.
Johm believes irrigation is a crucial component given the noted productivity challenges among farmers as a result of climate change.
“Irrigation development is very important if there is going to be transformation of African agriculture because currently, studies have shown that only 3 to 5 percent of arable land in Africa is being irrigated. The bank will therefore continue supporting agricultural infrastructural development and irrigation is our key focus especially with the emerging challenge of climate change”, concludes Johm.
While agriculture is said to contribute close to 30% of GDP and 50% of total exports, and employing over 70% of the population in most non-oil economies, and despite being one of the key sectors in Africa, agriculture continues to rely heavily on rainfall, and as such, is vulnerable to climate change.
It is for this reason that close to 500 delegates have gathered in Marrakesh, Morocco, in a bid to come to the rescue of Africa’s agriculture so as to seize climate change opportunities for a more harmonious development of the continent.