Voice of America (Washington, DC)

17 July 2014

African Agriculture Needs Young Entrepreneurs

A report on agriculture in Africa calls for increased investment for entrepreneurship in the rural food sector, and cites agriculture as the key sector for creating jobs for African youth.

The "Small and Growing - Entrepreneurship in African Agriculture" report was released in London last month by the Montpellier Panel. The panel is a group of agriculture and trade experts from Europe and Africa who work together to improve food sustainability in sub-Saharan Africa.

"Africa produces over $280 billion worth of agriculture products and most of that production is not in the value chain, and does not involve youth employment, does not involve entrepreneurs," said Daniel Gad, an entrepreneur who heads Omega Farms, located just outside of Addis Ababa.

Gad said most of the agriculture products are raw grain and raw cereals that are produced by poorly paid farmers. The challenge, he said, is attracting and retaining youth employment, a key component to food sustainability in Africa; young men and women from the countryside do not want to stay and work in the agriculture sector.

"The young women are attracted by jobs in the urban communities, young men as well. The development of the urban centers is forcing a lot of migration into the cities because the wages are higher, more rewarding and more interesting," said Gad.

For young people the agriculture industry is seen as old-fashioned. It lacks rewards, is not a dynamic industry and has nothing to do with the Internet.

"I would like to see more entrepreneurial opportunities for young women and men in the rural countryside," he said. The Montpellier report refers to the need for development of training and education programs in entrepreneurial skills.

The report also calls for an incubation system to teach young women and men in the rural areas how to succeed in business and how to develop new products, new services, and to get more involved in the value chain.

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