IFAD grant of US$1.95million to create opportunities for rural youth in West and Central Africa

CORY signed

Investing in rural youth is critical if they are to stay in rural areas and contribute to their development

Rome, 26 February 2014 – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a grant of US$1.95 million to the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development (CEED) to support creating opportunities for rural youth in West and Central Africa, beginning in Benin, Cameroon, Gambia and Nigeria.

Heather Spidell, President and CEO of CEED, and Michel Mordasini, Vice President of IFAD, signed the grant agreement today.

The global economic crisis has adversely impacted three key areas associated with sustainable development and affecting young people across the world: employment, enterprise and development funding. Youth constitute 70 per cent of Africa’s population and are keenly feeling the impact of the crisis. They face numerous challenges in their attempt to find decent employment, gain access to credit and create businesses. Many young people have creative ideas that could provide them with employment through enterprise development, but they lack the resources to realize their vision.

The aim of the new project is to enable young rural women and men to create sustainable farm and non-farm businesses by building their entrepreneurial capacities, through enhanced peer learning and access to complementary business development services. Young rural women and men, ages 15-35, who are involved in either agricultural production or activities associated with rural markets are the target group of this project. About 2,880 young agricultural entrepreneurs (“agripreneurs”) and 43,200 farm and non-farm rural young entrepreneurs would be trained, and 480 rural youth enterprises launched. In addition, 2,400 rural venture creation teams will be set up through which young entrepreneurs will be paired with mentors. Women will make up at least half of the participants.

From 26 to 28 February, a workshop will be organized at IFAD headquarters in Rome to review and finalize the implementation plan and key activities of this grant, including taking into account feedback on target country investment priorities. It will also be an opportunity for IFAD to learn and share experiences with the grant recipient (CEED) on rural youth operations.

The grant will be implemented by CEED with technical support of the Columbia Business School (CBS) and Susterra, Inc., as subrecipients. Key national implementing partners in each country and three major regional institutions (Songhai Center, Ecobank and the Africa Women’s Development Fund) will also be involved in the implementation.



Sustainable food systems for food security and nutrition -IFAD President’s speech #WFD

Statement by IFAD President on the occasion of the 33rd observance of World Food Day

Today, on World Food Day, I am not going to talk to you about climate change, although our topic is sustainable food systems.

Neither am I going to talk to you about the financial environment, although it has an important relationship to food security.
Nor am I going to talk to you about the 842 million men women and children who go to bed hungry every night, appalling as that statistic is.

You already know about the human suffering caused by poverty and hunger, and the role played by climate change and unstable economies.
Today, what I want to talk to you about is not what is wrong, but about the steps we must take to set it right. I want to talk about three elements that are preconditions for sustainability. Three things that need to change because, without them, all of our well-meant efforts will not be generating the lasting benefits that 842 million people need.

The first thing that must change is government policy. It is time for governments to go beyond words to action. Every country needs policies for inclusive growth to maximize its food production potential, and in many countries that means supporting smallholder-led agriculture.

This includes policies that offer incentives for investment in agriculture and reduce the risks for farmers and private sector partners alike. Policies that encourage inclusive business models. Policies that facilitate the ability of poor farmers to access finance and technology and to have rights to water and land.

We are starting to see progress, with national policies being tailored to local needs. In Burundi, for example, IFAD supported CAADP in lobbying for policy changes. As a result, the government has introduced fertilizer subsidies and increased the share of the budget to agriculture from 3.6 per cent in 2010 to 10 per cent in 2012; or in Panama, where an IFAD-supported project provided economic and logistic support for negotiating laws for indigenous peoples’ land rights.

And there are also encouraging developments with Ethiopia’s Agricultural Transformation Agency, Tanzania’s Growth Corridor. And, of course, my own country, Nigeria, which has made agriculture a top priority of its Transformation Agenda.

Now to the second element – of effective institutions – because policies are only worth the paper they are written on if they are supported by strong institutions. We have seen the power of institutions to transform agriculture and economies in Brazil, where EMBRAPA, working jointly with other national and state level institutions, has contributed to an enormous transformation in just 30 years. Today, Brazil is no longer a food importer and becoming one of the biggest producers and exporters in the world.

The third essential element for sustainable food systems is infrastructure, from production to processing plants, warehouses, roads and ports.

Today, more than one third of the rural population of sub-Saharan Africa lives five hours from the nearest market town of 5,000 people, making transport and marking costs too high. Across the continent, badly maintained roads are the norm.

Equally important are processing and storage facilities. An estimated 20 to 40 per cent of crop production is lost in sub-Saharan Africa because of deterioration after harvest. Post-harvest losses on this scale are scandalous, particularly on a continent where millions of people go hungry.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We know that smallholders can contribute to sustainable food systems if they have well-functioning infrastructure, supportive policies and institutions. We have seen it in Brazil, China, Malaysia, and Viet Nam.

On this World Food Day, let us renew our commitment to a world without hunger. Let us work to support governments that are making the right policies, governments that are building effective institutions and governments that are investing in infrastructure.

But let us also call on every government to do its part.

As I have said before, I will say again today: No amount of sunlight or rainfall will allow a plant to grow and flourish unless it is first fully rooted in its own soil.

Growth and development are intrinsic processes and they must first be nurtured and cultivated from within. Only then can external forces add value to the process.

Thank you.

16 October 2013, Rome
Sourced HERE

Youth: get geared up!

Making a presentation on country level activities at the YPARD Side event. #aasw6

Making a presentation on country level activities at the YPARD Side event. #aasw6

The 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week with the theme;- “Africa Feeding Africa through Agricultural Science and Innovation” was held between the 15th and 21st of July 2013 at Accra, Ghana and put together by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). It was an event  that I was happy to have participated in. You might wonder why I have said so. For the first time since my sojourn into Agricultural Research for Development, I was part of an event that clearly highlighted that Food Security in Africa was a concern to all from the youngest to the oldest, from Donors to ARD agencies and even down to scientist and the private sector players.

Let me give you a quick overview of how the event by, as you read pay a bit of attention to the inclusion and involvement of youth in this Africa wide event and why indeed we need to be geared up for action and impact in the near future. Quite unknown to many though, that future is now.

The conference had four thematic focuses, namely

  • Education and human Resource development to enable Africa feed Africa
  • Innovations to improve productivity and resilience
  • Moving beyond competition and towards collaboration
  • Innovative Financing and Investment in Agriculture.

The first two days of the conference were allocated to side events by FARA constituents, stakeholders, partner organisations, Regional Agriculture Research Councils and even Donors. And each of these side events had a very good number of youth and young professionals in attendance to not only listen and observe, but also give their contributions, perspectives and give a voice in all the discussions held.

Personally, I was invited and supported by FARA to attend and take part in the side-event with the theme: “Promoting Access to Rural Finance for Enhanced Agricultural Productivity in Africa” and this comes under the fourth thematic focus- “Innovative Financing and Investment in Agriculture.” The panellist and participants at this discussions agreed that there was a need to increase greatly investment in Agriculture paying attention to two core areas namely

  1. Sustainable new ways for accessing agricultural and rural finance in Africa
  2. Innovative options for promoting Youth access to financial services for agricultural purposes.

Participants at this event were cross-cutting thus giving a good mix of suggestions and practical way forwards. At the end of the discussions for the day, it was all agreed that a multi stakeholder approach was needed to properly and successfully increase investment in rural agriculture. And that for youth to have access to finance a couple of things needs to be put into consideration

  1. A review of agricultural policy
  2. Reduction of high interest rate so that youth can have access to credit
  3. A review of land tenure laws, which would tend toward making access to land for agricultural purpose readily available for youth
  4. Development of application of ICT to agriculture
  5. Capacity building in production and financial management skills

Another intriguing aspect of the Science week for me was working with the over 165 social media support team which had 55 of them onsite. FARA, CTA, YPARD, and CGIAR had partnered to support 25 onsite Social media Trainee from across Africa who were trained prior to the event to report proceedings to the world at large. And it was indeed, a great opportunity to work side by side these energetic and cool young people on the social media team.

By and large the science week shed more light on advancements made so far, challenges and the need for Africa to seek more scientific and innovative methods in its quest to feed itself. The need for more youth and women in the advancement of food security was stressed from all quarters. In the words of the IFAD President, Kanayo. N. Kanayo

Africa needs a commitment at all levels, involvement of all sectors of our societies – government, the private sector, farmers themselves, NGOs, civil society, and particularly women and young people.”

Even though sadly for me no one neither the private sector nor government agencies made mention of specific roles or programs or project that they would engage youth in the near future. My thoughts and advice for every youth and young professional in ARD is this- “Develop yourself, be ready to learn, maintain a good network of other young professionals in ARD, seize opportunities that come your way, partner with others and when the time comes we would be ripe and ready to take our place in securing Africa”

Get geared up!