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Statement by Hon. Christophe Bazivamo
EAC Deputy Secretary General for Productive and Social Sectors

Youth Employment-in-Agriculture as a Solid Solution to ending Hunger and Poverty in Africa
Engaging through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Entrepreneurship

August 21st, 2018 Kigali – Rwanda

  • Your Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda
  • Geraldine Mukeshimana, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources
  • African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Mr. Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko
  • FAO Director General, Mr. Jose Graziano de Silva
  • Distinguished Partners
  • Our Youth Champions-in-Agriculture from EAC Partners States and by extension ALL other youth agri-led actors here presents.
  • Distinguish Participants
  • Ladies and Gentlemen.

I wish to thank the Government of the Republic of Rwanda through the Ministry of Agriculture and the FAO through its Sub regional Office for Eastern Africa (SFE) for inviting the EAC-Secretariat to this important Continental Conference on Youth Employment-in-Agriculture. I bring you greetings from the EAC Secretary General, Ambassador Liberat Mfumukeko.

Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen

The last decade has seen the East African Community Region consolidates its Customs Union, launch the Common Market and the Monetary Union and intensify the development of regional infrastructure and telecommunications placing the region in a resurgent mode. As a result, the region experienced significant economic growth though with a significant imbalance between the foregoing growth and the population growth. Population rose by 35 percent or 40.65 million of people from 2004 to 2014 and in the East African Community we are currently 177.4 Million people of which 70.5% is youth and 22% urban population. Our main aim for coming together as an economic Bloc stems from our desire to improve the standard of living of this population through increased competitiveness, value-added production, trade and viable investment.

Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen

EAC is grateful to FAO for the support provided to achieve the above by successfully introducing and implementing a catalytic technical cooperation project geared towards promoting “Youth Employment in the Agricultural Sector” across the EAC Region, a project which from October 2017 to-date has achieved the following pleasing results:

  • We have completed a comprehensive documentation of best youth agribusiness models; and
  • A Regional Grant Award Ceremony was held on 6th June 2018 in Arusha for EAC Youth Champions-in-Agriculture. In total 16 young farmers received financial Grant Award ranging from $ 5,000 to $2,000. The aim is to help and incentive youth-in-agriculture to expand their agribusinesses and positively impact their respective communities and impress other East African youth.

Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen

The outcome of our EAC/FAO project will serve as a template for increasing investment on youth-in-agriculture and agribusiness, thereby harnessing the youth labour force in East Africa. FAO has chosen this region where youth represent 70.5% of the region’s total population estimated at approximately 177 million to pilot-test the implementation of a youth-in-agriculture employment project. This figure is expected to grow up to 75% by 2030 as a result of high growth of the population under the age of 24 years.

Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen

Harnessing this demographic dividend of the working age population could ultimately support increased productivity, ensure food security, strengthen inclusive economic growth, and address the high level of unemployed youth by engaging them in the agricultural sector. As a result this would reduce rural/urban youth migration. You will agree with me that such transformation cannot be possible without empowering the youth as agents of change, by engaging them in the sector which have more potential of job creation in the East Africa. In implementing this project we have been guided by the spirit of moving from rhetoric to actions. Our investment on youth-in-agriculture is our currency to achieving our EAC 2016–2021 Youth Policy Action Plan on sustainable livelihood and youth employment.

Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen

EAC with the support of FAO and other development partners want to unlock the economic value in the agricultural sector, boost creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, to generate decent employment opportunities, wealth creation, and curb youth distress migration. We know that our investment in the agricultural value chain is a low hanging fruit for harvesting sustainable development, food security, and rural poverty reduction in the East Africa.                                                           

Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen

I am pleased to inform you that the knowledge product that this project has generated will inform policy decision in transforming East Africa’s agricultural sector, which continues to host an untapped reservoir of opportunities including ICT for Agriculture.

Over the last five years, EAC has witnessed incredible changes in market dynamics fuelled by the explosive growth of mobile and digital technologies. ICT is increasingly being included in farm management and even food development. It empowered poor people with new, powerful communication tools, and facilitated more productive interactions and financial transactions among actors across agricultural value chains including agro-processing. ICT is already being applied in established food systems to improve efficiency and productivity; this could be the key to sustain food systems and youth entrepreneurship in the farming sector.

Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen

Recent developments of telephone applications that employ short text messages to link farmers to markets, farm inputs, access to credit and mobile banking facilities are increasingly making agriculture related activities more attractive and less cumbersome especially in market access and attracting youth to the sector. By strengthening linkages between rural producers and growing numbers of urban consumers through the development of input and output markets and related infrastructure, enabling environment and education ICT equips our Partner States with new growth and employment transformational opportunities.

Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen

In order to ensure that the above dreams become reality, EAC is in the process of building an EAC Youth Network (EAYN) to facilitate peer-to-peer learning and sharing of experiences and businesses among the youth of the region and we hope this to expand their market (supply and demand) in both regional and international trade.

I thank you for your attention.

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