To address the challenge of unemployment in Africa, it is imperative that governments across the continent tackle factors responsible for impeding youth engagement in agribusiness.
There has been much controversial discourse about whether the youth population surge across the African continent is a ticking time-bomb or a blessing in disguise. A study under the IFAD-sponsored IITA–CARE project explores the significant impact of agricultural training programs on youth agripreneurship performance, using the case of the Fadama GUYS program in Nigeria.
According to Dolapo Adeyanju, a young researcher under the CARE project, the Fadama GUYS program is one of the existing support programs in Nigeria, targeting unemployed youth between the ages of 18 and 35 years.
The study was carried out in Abia, Ekiti, and Kebbi states to represent the Southeastern, Southwestern, and Northwestern regions of the country, respectively. It identified major barriers that affect youth engagement in agripreneurship, such as lack of access to finance, lack of information, high-interest rates and outrageous collateral demanded by financial institutions, and lack of mentorship and follow-up after the training program.
“These barriers can be strategically addressed as a means to reduce youth unemployment, encourage the adoption of agripreneurship as a valuable means to create jobs, and improve the economic independence of young people,” states Adeyanju.
Adeyanju recommends incorporating post-training mentorship programs into the program designs, which would entail coaching and timely field visitations. Also, giving relevant guidance at the early stages for young people who are venturing into agribusiness was identified as a strategy that can lead to positive economic outcomes.
As part of the project objectives, IITA-CARE is sponsoring 80 young researchers across 10 countries in Africa studying youth engagement in agribusiness and rural economic activities. The project seeks to enhance the understanding of the poverty reduction and employment impact and the factors influencing youth engagement in agribusiness and rural farm and non-farm economy.