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FAO: More African youth needed in agriculture

Staff writer |
Getting more African youth involved in agriculture and boosting support for the region's vulnerable family farmers would be pivotal to improving food security and economic well-being in the years to come.

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This was stated by José Graziano da Silva, director general, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) at the organisation's Regional Conference for Africa. He added that water scarcity, low investment and conflict were among the challenges to food security in the region. However, he said he was confident that Africa could reach peace, stability and food security in the future.

"The region's economic growth rate is above the global average and most of the world's fastest-growing economies are in Africa," Mr. da Silv told ministers of agriculture and funding partners at the meeting. "The challenge is to translate this growth into social inclusion. Agriculture, rural development and youth can make this happen."

The links between youth, agri-business and rural development were high on the agenda at the conference. Africa is the world's youngest region, with more than half of the population being under 25 years of age.

It was pointed out that about 11 million people entered Africa's labour market every year. But salaries were low in the rural sector, informality was high, agriculture was not considered as attractive by many of the region's youth, and social protection was not always available for rural families in critical situations.

A paper prepared for the conference pointed out that the impressive growth in some African countries over the past decade has not translated into widespread employment or income for young people.

FAO called for greater public and private investment in agri-business, agro-industries and market-related services to attract and keep young workers, fuel job creation and spur new development in the agricultural sector.

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