Building capacity to help Africa trade better

African Green Revolution Forum to elevate role of youth and women in agriculture


African Green Revolution Forum to elevate role of youth and women in agriculture

African Green Revolution Forum to elevate role of youth and women in agriculture
Photo credit: AGRF

Leaders target investments and polices for African farmers and enterprises to meet rising food demand in an urbanizing Africa

The rapid rise of urban food markets across sub-Saharan Africa represents an unparalleled opportunity to drive development of African agriculture, and ultimately to engage millions of youth who enter the continent’s labor market each year, according to conveners of the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), which began on 29 September 2015 in Lusaka, Zambia.

More than 500 leaders from over 40 countries are expected to attend the AGRF, including high-level government officials, leaders of pan-African development organizations, representatives of youth and women’s organizations, academic experts, investors and agriculture business innovators.

“The AGRF can generate huge momentum for policies and programs that support Africa’s farmers and African-owned agriculture businesses to capture a bigger stake in the agricultural sector and rising urban markets,” said Sindiso Ngwenya, Secretary General, Common Market of East and Southern Africa. “Rather than meeting this demand through food imports, Africans need to grow, process, package and market the food consumed in our rapidly growing cities and towns.”

AGRF 2015 comes at a time when there is a growing consensus that rapid growth in all aspects of agriculture is crucial, both for food security and also because the sector is uniquely capable of rapidly generating economic and employment opportunities at all income levels across sub-Saharan Africa.

Agriculture is viewed as particularly promising for African women who produce 80 percent of the region’s food – their manual labor directly feeding their families and communities – and for the 200 million Africans under 25 who make Africa the world’s youngest continent.

The theme of this year’s AGRF is “Walking the Talk on Youth and Women: Bringing Inclusive Agricultural Markets to Life.” It comes at a time when Africa’s young population is searching for increased employment and meaningful opportunities. Of the 10 million young Africans who enter the job market every year, only a minority find formal employment.

“The African Union in 2014 pointed to the potential for agriculture-related jobs to employ at least 30 percent of African youth. Yet many young Africans are pessimistic about agriculture, because they see too many farmers and agriculture businesses struggling to survive,” said Dr. Agnes Kalibata, president of AGRA. “The good news is that economic opportunities in agriculture are much bigger than many realize, and with the right kinds of support, Africa's rapidly growing food sector can become as much as a $1 trillion source of a wide array of financially rewarding opportunities for Africa’s youth, on and off the farm."

AGRF 2015 also comes during the African Union designated “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development.”

“Agriculture is the largest employer of women, employing up to 90 percent of women in some African countries,” said H.E. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, commissioner for rural economy and agriculture, African Union. “Women anchor rural economies. Yet they farm without secure land rights, remuneration or the machinery and technologies essential to commercial agriculture. Policies and programs that address these gaps and link rural farmers to urban markets can transform livelihoods for smallholder farmers.”

The AGRF 2015 will define clear strategies to enable youth and women to engage in agriculture as a business enterprise and generate a triple dividend of improved food security, increased incomes and job creation. It will delve into issues including access to land, finance, energy and inputs, and the development of infrastructure, trade and markets, all with a particular eye toward overcoming challenges and expanding opportunities for women and youth.

AGRF will strive to call its partners and stakeholders to align themselves to measure, track and report their own progress at subsequent AGRFs in support of country priorities and African Union’s 2014 Malabo commitments, which pushed for accelerated agricultural growth. In the Declaration last June, African heads of state called for the doubling of food productivity in Africa, halving of poverty and significant progress toward the elimination of child undernutrition by 2025.

“The government of Zambia is honored to host this year’s AGRF, said the Hon. Given Lubinda, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Zambia “Together we will map the policies and investments needed to build a sustainable, diversified and competitive agricultural sector that assures food and nutrition security, creates jobs, and maximizes the sector’s contribution to Africa’s growth.”

The sponsors of the AGRF – the AGRF Partners Group, the Government of Zambia and the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) – will engage with thought leaders from Africa and the world to shape policies and practices that can make the most from Africa’s once neglected but now rapidly expanding agriculture business sectors.

AGRA will be releasing its annual Africa Agricultural Status Report, providing a framework for how agriculture can become a viable and lucrative option for Africa’s young entrepreneurs.


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