World Food Day: Time for global leaders to invest in Africa’s agriculture By Beth Dunford

More than six out of every 10 people in Sub-Saharan Africa work in the continent’s agriculture sector. We may not realize that what grows from African soil may be connected to some of the world’s most popular foods.

Africa produces the world’s largest supply of cocoa, used in chocolate bars and other products. Ethiopia and Uganda-grown coffee beans, which dominate Africa’s coffee exports, valued at nearly $2 billion last year.

The volume of African commodity exports is rising. At the same time, more Africans are facing food insecurity. Around 246 million Africans go to bed hungry every night. The pace of Africa’s agricultural growth is not keeping up with Africa’s population growth.

On World Food Day, it is time for African and global leaders, as well as development organizations, to join the African Development Bank Group’s call for increased investments in agricultural technologies that boost Africa’s food production and food security in the face of climate change.

The continent has immense potential to feed itself and to become a breadbasket to the world: about 65 percent of Earth’s remaining uncultivated, arable land is in Africa. However, that potential is threatened by erratic weather extremes. It is also stunted because a majority of African food growers are subsistence smallholder farmers. We need to scale up delivery of modern and climate-smart farming practices.

The African Development Bank Group’s investments are helping African farmers put more food in the mouths of more Africans. Since the Bank launched its Feed Africa Strategy in 2015, more than 74 million people are benefiting from access to improved agricultural technologies, resulting in higher food production.

Our flagship program, Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) has provided 11 million farmers across 29 African countries with proven agricultural technologies such as drought-resistant maize, heat-resistant wheat, higher-yielding seed varieties and seed treatments to protect against pests like the fall armyworm, which has been devastating African crops in waves of hungry, winged swarms.

TAAT has produced astonishing results in under three years. African food production has expanded by more than 12 million metric tons. TAAT has reduced Africa’s food imports worth $814 million. We are on our way to reaching our target of reaching 40 million farmers with modern and climate-resilient technologies.

Aligned with the World Food Day 2021 theme, “Our actions are our future. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life,” the Bank is delivering higher food production, access to more nutritious foods and helping farmers adapt to environments impacted by climate change. We advocate for gender-sensitive policy reform and gender-inclusive development.

We need to scale up delivery of modern and climate-smart farming practices

Combined, these activities are raising incomes for women and men in farming and contributing to a better quality of life for Africans all along the food value chain.

The Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative aims to reduce the access to financing gap women businesses face across the continent, including women working in agriculture.

AFAWA has just put $20 million into a project on financing climate-resilient agricultural practices in Ghana. It will target hundreds of women-led enterprises through lines of credit with Ecobank Ghana, as well as provide them skills training on climate adaptive farming.

We are on the right path, but we need to do more. At a recent “Feeding Africa” event hosted by the Bank and the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development, more than a dozen African heads of state and other world leaders endorsed the creation of a Financing Facility for Food and Nutrition in Africa. The Facility proposes a new approach to investing in agriculture and agri-business, based on five pillars:

Scaling up of proven climate-adapted, science-based production and other technologies;

• Creating an enabling environment for enhancing agricultural production. Governments must commit to policy and regulation that facilitates access to modern technologies;

• Building critical backbone infrastructure linking production areas to markets and processing at African national and regional levels;

• Crowding in private-sector investments and access to finance. Private sector investment and business expertise will grow food supply chain commercial viability, as well as inclusion of more small and medium enterprises and smallholder farmers;

• Support to an African special emergency assistance fund on famine and drought.

The Facility expects to mobilize $1 billion over the next two years from green funds, bilateral and multilateral donors to support these pillars. We need more government, development partner, private sector and foundation “buy in” to scale up investments in this Facility.

The African Development Bank envisages a food-secure Africa that uses advanced technologies, creatively adapts to climate change and develops a new generation of “agripreneurs” — empowered youth and women who will modernize and industrialize agriculture.

The Financing Facility aims to accomplish that by bringing smart “agritech” to help millions of more African farmers to double major crop yields, produce enough food to feed an additional 200 million people and reduce incidents of malnutrition. Join us.

• Beth Dunford Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development at the African Development Bank

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Unlocking the potential of Africa’s free trade area for rural women

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Regional Office for Africa has launched a new brief that advocates for seizing the opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for the economic empowerment of women in agriculture. The publication is launched today to coincide with the International Day for Rural Women which is celebrated every year on 15 October to honour women and girls living in rural areas.

The AfCFTA holds the potential to contribute significantly to eliminating poverty, creating jobs, and improving food security. However, the new publication Seizing the opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Area for the economic empowerment of women in agriculture warns that the AfCFTA could exacerbate existing gender disparities and discrimination and worsen the condition of women engaged in trade and agriculture if women’s inclusion is not prioritized.

The AfCFTA will change existing trading practices and formalize markets which could preclude women’s access and further relegate them to informal and less lucrative value chains.

“Women must not be left behind,” said FAO Senior Gender Officer Clara Park. “It is of pivotal importance that we create ecosystems of support that enable women to access opportunities created through the AfCFTA and reinvigorate our efforts to address existing gender inequalities in access to and control over land, services, technology, markets, and knowledge. We need to bring women and their organizations to the decision-making table,” she said.

We need to bring women and their organizations to the decision making table

Women’s key role in Africa’s food production and trade

Around 85 percent of economic activity in Africa is conducted in the informal sector where women account for nearly 90 percent of the informal labour force. Many rural women also sell goods and agricultural produce through informal trade channels and cross-border trade.

The African Continental Free Trade Area agreement establishes the largest free-trade area in the world. The single market aims to enhance intra-African trade, facilitate investment, improve continental economic integration, and boost African countries’ competitiveness in the global market.

Some of the many benefits women can reap by trading under the AfCFTA include moving up the value chain, leveraging networks of women’s associations, upgrading their businesses, and tapping into new markets.

Ensuring women’s inclusion

The publication makes recommendations relevant to stakeholders across the trade sector, including strategic partnerships to develop innovative solutions and policy recommendations to ensure that the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement will provide opportunities that benefit women; build the capacity of women and women’s organizations so that they are involved in Africa’s trade environment and understand what the AfCFTA agreement entails, including its opportunities and challenges; and engage the private sector to connect with women’s groups involved in agricultural value chains.

FAO recognizes that women play a critical role in food production in Africa. FAO is working with partners to unlock the potential of trade and seize the opportunities of the AfCFTA for rural women.

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IITA boss, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga receives prestigious award for championing youth in agriculture programs

The Association of Deans of Agriculture in Nigeria Universities (ADAN) has honored the Director-General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr Nteranya Sanginga, with an Award of Excellence for successfully pioneering the IITA Youth in Agribusiness program.

The award was presented to the IITA boss during the 64th annual general meeting of ADAN held recently in Nasarawa State, north-central Nigeria.

“We are proud of the impact of the work that IITA has been doing, particularly among the youth, and it is worthy of recognition,” Chair of the Local Organizing Committee of ADAN, Prof. Olumuyiwa James Jayeoba, said.

The IITA youth program, which initially started with less than 50 youths on IITA Campus, Ibadan, has blossomed with hundreds of young people across Africa benefiting from the program. Most of the program’s beneficiaries are now managers of their own farms, while others have picked up other vocations within the agriculture space.

“ADAN intends to emulate the IITA Youth program and replicate the model across Nigerian universities,” Prof. Jayeoba disclosed.

Receiving the award on behalf of Dr Sanginga, Dr Alfred Dixon, the Director of the Development and Delivery Office of IITA, said the recognition was an encouragement for IITA and the DG to do more for the growth of youth in Africa.

“The youth program in IITA has demonstrated that the rising youth population is a huge capital that we need to harness for wealth creation and the prosperity of Africa,” Dr Dixon added.

Widely referred to as the “father of youth in agripreneurship”, Dr Sanginga successfully pioneered the youth-in-agriculture initiative that has been adopted in many African countries.

Prior to becoming the Director-General of IITA, Dr Sanginga served as the Director of the Nairobi-based Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Institute (TBSF) of the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT-TBSF). Before transferring to CIAT-TBSF, Dr Sanginga served for 14 years in IITA in various capacities, including Principal Scientist and Head of the Soil Microbiology Unit.

Other positions he held include Assistant Coordinator of the Alley Farming Network for Tropical Africa (AFNETA); Project Coordinator of Improvement of High-Intensity Food and Forage Crop Systems and Short Fallow Systems to Arrest Land Degradation due to Land Use Intensification; Leader of the multidisciplinary program Improving and Intensifying Cereal-Legume Systems in the Moist and Dry Savannas of West and Central Africa, and collaborating with many scientists in national and international institutions.

Dr Sanginga has more than 30 years of experience with the University of Zimbabwe, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Austria, CIAT-TSBF, and IITA in agricultural research and development, particularly in the fields of applied microbial ecology, plant nutrition, and integrated natural resources management in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.

Born and bred in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Dr Sanginga did most of his postgraduate training at IITA and his PhD in Agronomy/Soil Microbiology under a joint program between IITA and the Institut Facultaire des Sciences Agronomiques, Yangambi, DRC.

He has extensive skills in research management, developing partnerships and institutional linkages, and institution building. Under his leadership, the CIAT-TSBF portfolio rose from $1.2 million in 2003 to over $14.5 million in 2010. Its research-for-development agenda expanded from focusing on Western Kenya to covering the major agroecosystems of East, Central, and Southern Africa. In IITA, he has more than tripled the institute’s budget since the assumption into office.

Dr Sanginga played a major role in the creation of the Consortium for Improving Agriculture-based Livelihood in Central Africa (CIALCA) that included three international research centers (IITA, CIAT-TSBF, and Bioversity), university partners in Belgium, national research and development partners in DRC, Burundi, and Rwanda.

His career has also focused on building the capacity of young scientists in Africa. He has trained more than 30 PhD candidates at the National University of Congo, School of Agriculture and the University of Zimbabwe, who now hold leadership positions in their countries.

Dr Sanginga has to his credit more than 150 publications in international journals and book chapters.

Under his leadership, IITA received the Al-Sumait Award for Food Security in 2016 and the Africa Food Prize in 2018.

At the award ceremony were: Dr Chrys Akem, Technologies for TAAT Coordinator: Prof. Lateef Sanni, Project Leader for BASICS-II; Ezinne Igbokwe Ibe , Project Administrator, BASICS-II: Godwin Atser, Advocacy, Promotion & Outreach Lead, BASICS-II and the youth agriprenuers in IITA.

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Federal and state governments endorse Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones Programme, partners African Development Bank

Nigeria’s Federal and State governments have expressed overwhelming support for an initiative to create Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) – public-private partnerships aimed at developing priority value chains through developing infrastructure in rural areas, focused on finishing and transforming raw materials and commodities.

At a high-level briefing session held on Monday, Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning Dr. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, who hosted the meeting, reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to put in place enabling policies and incentives to attract private sector investment in the Zones, to ensure successful implementation.

“The Federal government is committed to successfully implementing the programme to increase agricultural production, reduce poverty, and scale up job creation across the country,” Ahmed said.

The participants, representatives of the African Development Bank Group, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), provided progress updates on the scheme, following their consultations with key stakeholders within the public and private sectors.

Director-General of the African Development Bank’s Nigeria Country Department, Lamin Barrow said the zones would be rolled out in 18 African countries, including Nigeria.

The Nigeria Special Agro-industrial Processing Zone programme consists of four mutually reinforcing components – infrastructure development and agro-industrial hubs management; agriculture productivity and production; policy and institutional development; and programme coordination and management.

The Federal government is committed to successfully implementing the programme to increase agricultural production, reduce poverty, and scale up job creation across the country

“The Bank and its development partners are mobilizing $520 million to co-finance the first phase of the program in Nigeria, be implemented in phases across six geo-political zones,” Barrow said.

Ahmed said all 36 States in Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory would be eligible to participate in the SAPZ programme. In addition to the Federal Capital Territory and 7 states – Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Imo, Cross River, Ogun and Oyo – participating in Phase 1, several other states have indicated an interest in the SAPZ programme. These include Bauchi, Lagos, Niger, Jigawa, Ekiti, Lagos, Taraba, Benue, Sokoto, Ondo, Nasarawa, Gombe and Kogi.

Prof. Oyebanji Oyeleran-Oyeyinka, the Senior Adviser on Industrialisation to the President of the African Development Bank, said “the zone model is an explicit industrialization strategy to transform poor rural spaces into zones of prosperity, stem rural-urban migration, end human insecurity induced by herder-farmers clashes, and provide employment to Nigerian youth.”

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Richard Adebayo, commended the strategic initiative of the African Development Bank and its partners, and added “strong private sector participation will ensure that the project aligns with the Federal Government’s industrialization agenda.”

Also present at the meeting African Development Bank Group’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Beth Dunford, said, “In the same manner that SAPZs have worked in other countries, it will create jobs, develop skills, and facilitate agricultural value chains development in Nigeria. Private sector investment is critical to the success of the SAPZs, as well as having the right policies in place. Action is needed now. The African Development Bank is ready to accelerate this action.”

IFAD’s Associate Vice President for Programme Management, Donald Brown said, “this flagship project will  enable us to take our relationship with the African Development Bank to another level. Our relationship started 43 years ago, and since then we have worked together on 52 projects. But I think the Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones are the biggest and most high-profile project that IFAD and the Bank will work on together.”

Solomon Quaynor, African Development Bank’s Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization, noted that “the quality of industrial policies and design will influence the quality of private sector operators that can be attracted into the Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones.”

Ougfaly Badji, IsDB’s Senior Agricultural Economist said the zones would enable producers, processors, and the entire agricultural value chain in Nigeria, to become more functional and profitable.

Special Agro-industrial Processing are a flagship initiative of the Bank’s ‘Feed Africa’ strategic priority. They aim to provide end-to-end solutions and services that de-risk production, processing, and marketing operations of private sector actors as they boost manufacturing and transformation capacity in production areas. The end result is improved livelihoods for millions in the rural areas as well as a reduction in poverty.

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In Nigeria, over 50,000 households receive agricultural support

Many communities in the North-East, North-Central, and South-South regions of Nigeria have faced renewed violence in recent months. While we continue to provide emergency assistance including food and household items to support those affected by the violence, we also provide agricultural support in places where people have access to land for farming to help restore livelihoods.

“The eleven-year-old armed conflict in the north-east and worsening humanitarian crises in other regions has left the country’s agriculture sector struggling as a large percentage of the rural population in these regions are displaced,” said Awais Khan, Coordinator of the Economic Security (EcoSec) team of the ICRC in Nigeria.

Each farmer was given enough seeds to cultivate three acres of land

“The population in these regions face limitations on access to their farmlands and many do not have the financial means to restart food production on their own even when they have access to land. Our agricultural support to these populations aims to enhance household food production and strengthen their resilience,” Khan added.

Mallam Abdullahi Mohammed, whose family recently received agricultural support, said “We were displaced from Madagali to a community around Belle, Maiha. Through divine mercies, the ICRC assisted me with a bag of maize, beans, pepper, and watermelon seeds to plant. I was also given a rake and a hoe and cash assistance to buy food. I pray I am able to use them to help myself and my dependent relatives”

Across Nigeria, we have distributed agricultural support to over 50,000 households this year. These include vulnerable residents, displaced people, returnees, and refugees. The effort, led by our offices in Maiduguri, Yola, Jos and Port Harcourt, has resulted in the distribution of 1,138 tonnes of seeds. In addition, households received cash to cover other agricultural inputs not included in our seeds and tools kits, as well as food rations to support their food needs during the planting season.

Each farmer was given enough seeds to cultivate three acres of land and the items were distributed based on a combination of the climatic conditions of the area for farming, available land space, and crop varieties, as well as the food preferences of the communities.

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1D1F: President Akufo-Addo Commissions $16 Million Tomato Processing Factory In Domfete

The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Tuesday, 10th August 2021, commissioned the   $16 million Weddi Africa Tomato Processing Factory, a company operating under the 1-District-1-Factory initiative, at Domfete, in the Berekum West District of the Bono Region.

The government, through Ghana Exim Bank and ADB Bank Ghana, facilitated the acquisition of the loan facility to support the establishment and operations of the factory owned by Weddi Africa Limited, a wholly-owned Ghanaian company.

According to President Akufo-Addo, the establishment of the factory is an example of the critical role the private sector can play in Ghana’s industrial transformation, adding that the setting up of this manufacturing facility, outside the traditional areas of Accra, Tema and Takoradi, underscores the commitment of Government to decentralize industrial development, and, thereby, stimulate economic activity in the rural areas.

He explained that Domfete was chosen for the siting of the factory because the town happens to be one of the major catchment areas for the cultivation of fresh tomatoes, and will help in reducing rural-urban migration.

The factory will process some 40,000 metric tonnes of fresh tomatoes per annum, and also has a 500 metric ton cold room facility to store fresh tomato fruits. In addition, a model farm and research centre designed to conduct seed trials and train farmers on best farm practices, as well as an agric-input Shop to supply inputs to the farmers at affordable prices, have been established by the company.

This, the company explains, will boost the profitability of the factory and improve income levels for the farmers engaged by the company.

This, the company explains, will boost the profitability of the factory and improve income levels for the farmers engaged by the company

Additionally, a 2,400-acre farmland as a nucleus farm has been set up by Weddi Africa, with the company also spearheading the establishment of a Tomato Outgrower Farmers Association in Tano North and Berekum West districts, with 2,000 registered farmers from Ahafo and Bono regions.

These 2,000 farmers are on schedule to receive seeds, fertilizers, other inputs, and technical services from the relevant MDAs. These Government supported mechanisms have been put in place to provide the requisite support services to ensure the profitability and sustainability of the factory.

Thus far, the factory has created some one hundred and fifty-eight (158) direct jobs, with some two thousand, one hundred (2,100) indirect job opportunities also created for the people of Berekum West District and surrounding communities.

Government, President Akufo-Addo assured, is committed to supporting private sector operators like Weddi Africa Limited to position themselves to become globally competitive, and, thereby, take advantage of market integration frameworks, such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), whose Secretariat has been established in Accra.

Indeed, the Ministry of Trade and Industry in collaboration with relevant MDAs, has established an institutional mechanism to provide strategic support and assistance to the local private sector operating at the district level.

This is in reference to the establishment of Business Resource Centers as one-stop enterprise support centers in 67 districts across the country, 37 of which have already commenced operations and 30 are under construction. The 1D1F companies will benefit from the assistance to be provided by these BRCs.

The President commended the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), Food & Drugs Authority (FDA) and various Stakeholders for the support they have provided to the company.

He also commended the Chief Executive Officer of Weddi Africa Limited, Mr. Yaw Boahene, and his Team for establishing such a modern manufacturing facility in Domfete near Berekum in the Bono region, in support of Government’s Industrial Transformation Agenda.

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Young people are the future, they will build a better world- Amb Abdullahi Bindawa

Young people are the future. But all too often in today’s world young women and men are marginalized and excluded – from decent employment and from crucial decisions about how to address the big challenges that face us all. Their voices are rarely heard in democratic debate and their needs and views are rarely reflected in policies and programme.

Yet more than ever the world needs young people’s ideas, their talents and their energy. In rural areas, we particularly need their drive and innovative skills to sustainably produce the food required by an increasingly populous and urbanized world.

Young people aged 15 to 24 make up 17 per cent of the developing world’s population. In the least developed countries alone, 15.7 million young women and men will join the working-age population every year between 2010 and 2050.


Many of them will live in rural areas and work outside the formal sector. Today in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, 62 per cent of young people work on family farms, where they are often unpaid and unprotected. Given the sheer numbers of young people reaching working age, the potential of a so-called “demographic dividend” is great, but so is the risk.

Integrating young people into productive society boosts their countries’ economic growth while also contributing to political stability and social harmony. If we fail to bring young women and men into the economic mainstream, we will lose the contributions of this generation while raising the likelihood of social unrest.

These facts have shaped IFAD’s agenda more and more in recent years. They are reflected in our current strategic framework, which calls for “creating viable opportunities for rural youth”. And they are seen in the programmes and projects we support, which increasingly work directly with young rural people and prioritize their needs.

I am pleased to see that youth issues are also increasingly on the global agenda. For example, the United Nations System-Wide Action Plan on Youth (Youth SWAP) represents a real opportunity for UN agencies, including International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), to create partnerships that serve young people better.

The international community is now formulating the post-2015 development agenda. All parties clearly recognize that inclusivity and equity are crucial for broad and sustainable poverty reduction. This is a golden opportunity to reverse the marginalization of young people, and especially of young women and men outside the cities. Modernizing food production systems, providing green energy, addressing environmental degradation and climate change, and driving growth in rural areas all require their dynamism and creativity.

We know what we need to do to support young rural people. We must provide high-quality education and relevant training. We must create an environment that generates decent jobs with opportunities for all young people.

We must enable them to gain access to the resources, inputs and services they need to be productive. We must also recognize that migration will be the right choice for some young rural people, and we must help make it a good choice that is safe and rewarding. And we must support young people’s genuine participation in their communities and nations.

Working in partnership with young rural people and their organizations to make all of this possible is central to IFAD’s programme of work. It is also indispensable to creating a more equitable, just and sustainable world.

Amb Abdullahi Bindawa DSC, UN Security Expert. Nigerian educator, Humanitarian worker and was the most widely recognized young leader in the Africa continent

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Boosting Family Nutritional Value: Agric Firm To Unveil ‘Chicken Club’

An Ibadan-based frontline agricultural firm, Images Chicken, under the stable of D’Bestline Farm, has perfected plans to unveil Chicken Club with a view to further improve on meeting the Nutritional need of Nigerians and seamless protein supply to the family.

The pilot study of this package according to the Managing Director/CEO of the firm, Rev. Olatunde O, Owolabi will commence from Oluyole axis of Ibadan and after successful evaluation will spread to other parts of the State.
While explaining to the newsmen at his Oluyole office, the Vice-Chairman Oyo State Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Apata zone said the idea was conceptualized to ease the burden associated with getting needed protein supply to the family.

“Protein is an important part of a healthy diet and Studies have also shown that higher protein intake helps to maintain bone mineral density while eating chicken can help to build stronger muscles and Chicken is filled with high-quality proteins and doesn’t contain much fat especially if you eat lean cuts.

“Beyond its rich protein content, chicken also contains Vitamin B12, Tryptophan, Choline, Zinc, Iron and Copper. The chicken offers lots of advantages and subscribers to this package will also enjoy free supplies during the festive period depending on the type of their packages”, said Rev Owolabi.

He added that “one can subscribe to a three, six months or one year package. With a chicken club package, you can have a seamless protein supply to your family and after subscription one is guaranteed of being supplied 1.4 to 1.5 kg of chicken to your doorstep, and when the price goes up, you’re covered”.

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International Youth Day: New investment guidelines aim to elevate young people in agri-food systems

Youth employment is a critical issue across sub-Saharan Africa. With agriculture contributing to nearly 23 per cent of GDP in Africa, and 10-12 million jobs needing to be created annually for new labour market entrants, the creation of decent jobs for youth in rural and urban areas is urgent. Since smallholder farmers make up approximately 60 per cent of the population, deliberate investments in youth will facilitate the advancement of agricultural employment possibilities in the region, attracting youth participation.

Agri-food systems have the potential to create and scale-up decent employment opportunities for young people and lead to shared prosperity in Africa. Following estimates by the World Bank, the agribusiness and logistics sectors in Africa will mobilize about a trillion dollars of business by 2030.

At the same time, a key challenge for donors, youth leaders, and policymakers in the agri-food system is how to include and prioritize youth as an important demographic from conception to implementation and monitoring during each investment cycle.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in partnership with the African Union have made significant efforts to accelerate youth-responsive agriculture and agribusiness investment programmes through the drafting of new Investment Guidelines for Youth in Agri-food Systems in Africa. They mark an important step in translating existing global and regional commitments for investments in agri-food systems into action.

The African continent can prosper if we take action now through formulating policies, investments programmes, and interventions

The Guidelines were validated in July during a technical workshop held with senior officials of the African Union, representatives of youth groups, young entrepreneurs, producer organizations, international finance institutions, and other development partners, and will be presented for endorsement by African Union Member States in October.

The Guidelines draw on research, successful programs, expert consultations and other tools to aggregate the most effective and innovative entry points for governments and stakeholders looking to formulate or review their national agricultural and agribusiness investment plans with youth at the forefront.

“The African continent can prosper if we take action now”

The Guidelines were drafted to assist African governments and others to design youth-responsive and youth-led agriculture and agribusiness investment programmes to increase youth entrepreneurship and decent jobs. They were also created to stimulate policy dialogue to ensure an enabling environment for investing in youth, particularly in rural areas and from vulnerable backgrounds.

“The Food and Agriculture Organization invites governments, producer organizations, youth organizations, international financial institutions, and all other development partners to use the Investment Guidelines as a practical tool for operationalizing efforts to increase investments in youth in the agri-food sector,” said Abebe Haile-Gabriel, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa.

“The African continent can prosper if we take action now through formulating policies, investments programmes, and interventions that are demographically informed, youth-focused, and youth sensitive to tap the energy and dynamism of its increasing youth population,” said Amb. Josefa Sacko, the African Union Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment.

The Guidelines will be presented at the African Union’s Specialised Technical Committee (STC) Meeting in October for endorsement by African Union Member States.

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Agriculture: African Development Bank participates in launch of African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) platform linking Africa’s SMEs to investment opportunity

The African Development Bank’s ( incoming Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Dr. Beth Dunford, and Director for Agricultural Finance and Rural Infrastructure Development Atsuko Toda joined development leaders online to launch this year’s African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) Agribusiness Deal Room. The AGRF’s agriculture matchmaking platform initiative links some 4,000 actors in the agriculture sector to investment and networking opportunities.

In her first public engagement since her appointment, Dr. Dunford gave keynote remarks at a virtual session that drew more than 200 participants on Tuesday, 29 June. Dr. Dunford said that across Africa, there is a growing class of “agripreneurs” who are looking for investment, partnerships, technical knowhow and financing to scale up their business.

The African Development Bank is excited to grow its partnership to this initiative. The Agribusiness Deal Room compliments our efforts to expand finance for agribusiness to enable small and medium enterprises to grow and attract new and innovative sources of sustainable capital,” she told the online audience.

Organized by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, this fourth edition of the Agribusiness Deal Room will be featured at the annual AGRF Summit that convenes stakeholders to facilitate partnerships and investments in African agriculture. The Agribusiness Deal Room specifically supports governments and companies with access to finance and partnership opportunities.

Dr. Dunford told session attendees that the platform aligns with the Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy (, which seeks to ensure that the growth of the agricultural sector includes food security, and encourages inclusive growth by involving more women and youth. She also said Bank support of the Agribusiness Deal Room signals a commitment to a collective vision to accelerate Africa’s food system transformation.

“In my new capacity with the Bank, I’m looking forward to working with the AGRF and so many partners with us online, to see these food systems become more sustainable and more resilient,” Dr. Dunford added.

The African Development Bank is excited to grow its partnership to this initiative

This year, the AGRF Agribusiness Deal Room will focus on addressing the challenges in agricultural lending to small and medium enterprises, or SMEs.

“The huge potential of the agricultural sector on the continent remains unmet, with agriculture potentially the engine of African economies. We designed the Deal Room to build the capacities of SMEs while at the same time connecting them with sources of financing. We are looking for investments and partnerships that will unlock the sector’s potential,” said Dr. Fadel Ndiame, Deputy President, AGRA.

The Bank is one of 24 Agribusiness Deal Room partners that bring complementary capabilities, resources, and networks to the platform.

Toda served on one of two discussion panels at Tuesday’s launch, the first focused “Investments for resilience, public and private sector strategies,” the latter, themed “Building SME capacity to mitigate risks for a sustainable African food system.”

Speaking to the theme of building SME capacity, Toda said that these often under-the-radar businesses play a key role in delivering food to African tables and in generating employment.

“SMEs are the engine of growth for food supply chains. If you look at any food supply chain, between 65 – 90% of the food supply is actually through small and medium enterprises,” Toda said.

“For people to have jobs in Africa – it is very difficult to get into the formal sector. So the informal sector – the small, medium enterprises – are so important for creating jobs on the African continent,” she added.

Dr. Dunford will be responsible for the Bank’s strategy, lending and other activities in agriculture, as well as in water and sanitation, education, health, and Bank-wide work on employment and gender equity.

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