Youth involvement in agriculture is key to accelerating climate action in Africa

By Dickson Naftali

Africa¬†is¬†one¬†of¬†the¬†world’s¬†most¬†vulnerable¬†regions¬†to¬†climate¬†shocks.¬†The¬†continent‚Äôs¬†overdependence on rain-fed agriculture and pastoralism exposes it to the vagaries of climate change.¬†As a result, hunger¬†affects 282 million Africans, a number that will grow to¬†350 million by 2050.¬†Many of these victims are young people who are increasingly jobless on account of the failing farms¬†and¬†other¬†enterprises¬†across¬†the¬†agricultural¬†value¬†chain.

This large youth population is constantly entering the labour market requiring African economies, which are predominantly agricultural, to rapidly create a large number of jobs. This presents structural economic challenges that are exacerbated by pressure from climate change as environmental and agroecological changes result in lower crop productivity, more land scarcity and higher risks of extreme weather events.

Whichever way you look at it, today’s youth will suffer the brunt of climate change well into their old age, as will the youth of 2050. This is because climate-induced environmental change reduces both the quality and quantity of agricultural land resulting in fewer livelihood sources and an increased propensity for migration. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) affirms this, noting that climate change is a significant threat-multiplier for factors that cause youth migration, especial lly in agriculture-dependent populations and regions, such as those in Africa.

That is unless urgent action is taken to either reverse or manage the situation, with the youth at the forefront of all action. The advantage of working with young people is that they possess the innovation, motivation, and physical strength needed to drive action. A good number of them are deriving innovations, which are gradually defining the future of the continent’s agricultural practice. Take for instance the early-stage winner of the 2022 Pitch Agri Hack competition, Tunisian Imen Hbiri, who was recognised for his multispectral disease detector, Robocare; or the mature-stage awardee, Hamis El Gabry of Egypt, with his Mozare3, an agri-fintech company that connects small farmers to the agriculture supply chain. And who can forget the 2020 Africa Food Prize winner, Dr.Catherine Nakalembe, the Programme Director for NASA Harvest Africa, the space agency’s food security and agriculture programme for Africa? Dr. Nakalembe’s team uses satellite remote sensing and machine learning to collect the data needed to guide agricultural decision-making. It is the combination of youthfulness, and exposure to the world’s best training that allows Dr. Nakalembe, El Gabry and Hbiri to derive impactful solutions.

Seeing such well-thought-out and packaged products emerge out of Africa as local solutions to local problems is exciting. And these outrightly show the youth’s eagerness in redefining the state of the continent’s agriculture.

Yet these leading youthful innovators are only a handful compared to the millions that desire to lead¬†transformation at the farm level, as producers.¬†Their engagement requires accelerating opportunities¬†for improving farm productivity, strengthening agricultural value chains, and participating in value-¬†added processing. This calls for significant investments in agricultural education at all levels, focused¬†on a transition away from the perception that the sector is for people who have failed to make a¬†living in other ways. A quote by African Development Bank boss, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, along the¬†lines of¬†‚Äúthe next generation of¬†millionaires and billionaires in Africa, will be farmers‚ÄĚ should be recited many¬†more¬†times¬†for it¬†to sink¬†in.

In driving this messaging, it may be important to ponder AGRA’s youth strategy, which identifies several actions as instrumental in boosting the participation of youth in agriculture, as a defining factor in the fight against climate change. Firstly, governments must support agricultural innovation; improve market and rural infrastructure; and strengthen the business environments in ways that raise incomes and expand agriculture value chains.

Secondly, there is a need to increase and improve the capacity of youth to profitably engage in activities along the agriculture value chain through agribusiness training. This is in addition to improving youth employment and business opportunities by building strong businesses in inputs (seed, fertilisers, and agro-chemicals); mechanisation (planting, spraying, and harvesting), and outputs (aggregation, value addition and processing, marketing, and finance).

Further, it is important to increase smallholder farm productivity through irrigation and water management and improve access to markets and financial services through ICT, mechanisation, and other services. Lastly, and high in priority, there is a need to improve the policy environment for youth participation in agriculture and agribusiness as well as establish special funds including credit guarantee schemes that de-risk lending to youth.

These strategic pointers form the foundation of Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) which generates multiple benefits including improved yields, food security and increased income. Components of CSA include stress-adapted crop varieties and livestock breeds; improved seeds; crop diversification; conservation agriculture; water management; agroforestry, and integrated soil management. Yet despite this proven relevance in agricultural transformation, the adoption of effective CSA technologies and practices by young African farmers remains limited, majorly due to financial constraints. Appropriate financial, policy and institutional arrangements are, therefore, needed to scale up agricultural technologies and practices.

Meanwhile, Africa’s youth in agriculture must be outrightly placed at the front of all climate action advocacy. Their voices should be amplified during the annual climate change convention (CoP), all events surrounding the annual stocktake of the Paris Agreement, and agricultural conventions such as the September Africa Food Systems Forum.

The writer is Head of Generation Africa

Kabazi youth empowerment program launched

Kabazi Ward Youth empowerment program has been launched with calls on youth to maximize on Government opportunities.

Speaking during the launch at Kabazi Centre,Nakuru County Chief officer for Youth,Gender, Culture,Sports and Social Services Dr.William Migwe reiterated the goverment’s commitment in youth matters.

He however challenged youths to wake up and grab the opportunities available.

According to the chief officer,the various programs such as Youth Fund,Uwezo Fund as well as KYEOP program are key in transforming the youths.

“The goverment has availed several opportunities for youths and should be maximized on” said Migwe.

Area MCA Dr.Peter Mbae stating that youths are key in transforming the society.

Mbae says the aim of the program is to ensure youths are empowered to enable them be financially stable.

“The only way we can ensure developemt in society is by empowering our youths” he said.

Youth Mentor Stella Kendi also calling on youth to stay focused.

She says the youths’ needs can only be addressed by the youths themselves through actualizing their dreams.

“The little business idea you have is what will transform your life as long as you stay focused”said Kendi.

The program will be rolled out accross the Kabazi ward to reach out to various youths.

Counyy ICT Director Leonard Kirui calling on youths to ensure they grab opportunities to earn a living.

He said a training will be held in Subukia on youth empowerment on matters ICT.

“Working online is the way to go.Gone are days to just chat with friends online but rather is time to make online to earn a living” said Kirui.

Give room for youths in the fight against COVID-19,county told

Nakuru Youth and Governance Chairman Daniel Kimani.PHOTO.Pristone Mambili.

Nakuru county youth and Governance Chairman Daniel Kimani has called on the county government to ensure youth inclusivity in matters war on COVID-19.

In a phone interview,Kimani said the youth should be given opportunity to continue sensitizing community on COVID-19.

He said the county Government should not work as a lone lager.

According to Kimani,the County Disaster management team must give youth first priority when sensitizing people on COVID-19.

“We are calling on the county government to ensure youths are given space in the fight against COVID-19” he said.

He says the committee must have youth, women and PWDs.

On the distribution of food,Kimani says the youths should be in the forefront.

“When supplying food to the needy people let all the youth be in the forefront up to the village level” he said.

He proposes that the county government averts using people who are not known at the community to run the food program as they will not be able to identify the needy.

The youth leader is also calling on the county government of Nakuru to make sure every youth is included in the list of needy categories.

He says as it stands now most youths are needy since most of them were rendered jobless after the announcement of COVID-19 Pandemic.

He also cited the county move to shut all the salons and barber shops as another contributor to joblessness.

Youth leader calls on MCAs to expedite on Nakuru County Youth Board draft Bill

Pushing for Nakuru County Youth Board
Daniel Kimani has been pushing for the Nakuru County Youth Board to be established. Photo by Pristone Mambili

Nakuru County Youth and Governance chairman Daniel Kimani has called on the County assembly of Nakuru to expedite on the Nakuru County Youth Board draft Bill that is before the County Assembly.

In an interview, Kimani said the Bill will go a long way in addressing challenges the youths in Nakuru County have been facing on matters employment.

He says if the Bill sails through then it will see the establishment of a Board to handle matters youths and employment in Nakuru County.

According to Kimani, youths in Nakuru County are always subjected to humiliations and a lot of bureaucracies when it comes to matters employment but this will be a thing of the past once the Bill sails through.

‚ÄúWe are appealing to the MCAs and the executive to help expedite the Bill so that we can have youth Board in place to handle youth‚Äôs issues in this county. We know our MCAs and Governor will support because they have youths at heart‚ÄĚ said Kimani.

Kimani adds that the Bill was prompted after a conflict emerged between the youths and former Nakuru County CEC for Youths, Gender and Sports Halima Gababa over the manner in which the docket was being handled.

‚ÄúWe came up with the Bill following what we had experienced with former CEC Halima Gababa,‚ÄĚ said Kimani.

A spot check at the draft Bill, it has highlighted various functions of the Youth Board once established which include among others regulating and coordinating all the activities relating to youths.

The Board shall also mobilize resources to support and fund youth programs and initiatives in the county as well as lobby for the legislation on issues affecting youths.

The Board’s Composition will see a chairperson nominated by the Board and approved by the Governor and representatives from all the sub-counties.

There shall also be a legal officer and one member from the county assembly representing youths.

The members will be remunerated as per the existing acts that regulate the operations of other Boards within the county.

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