Youth unemployment is a major concern for many developing countries because of its negative effects on the economy, social stability /security and well-being of the general populations including the young people. In West and Central Africa, youth accounts for more than 60% of the active population. It has been estimated that 20 to 24 year-olds who complete secondary education will increase from 42% to 59% of the population over the next 20 years. However, although they would have acquired some reasonable level of education, the challenge will be that they possess few employable skills. Although many jobs have been created, there has not been enough to accommodate the growing number of young people in need. The cost of inadequate employment is high and without urgent interventions to provide more employment opportunities, African countries risk wasting the tremendous potential offered by their youths.
To this end, the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD) with support from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has developed the Empowering Youths for Agripreneurship project.
The project is built on three fundamental pillars:
- Putting research into use,
- Strengthening Research-Private sector partnerships,
- Creating an enabling environment for agricultural entrepreneurship.
The Executive Secretariat of CORAF/WECARD will coordinate this project among the nine (9) National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) in the following countries: Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Niger and Sierra Leone.
For this purpose, fifteen (15) technologies were selected according to their capacities to generate more income and attract youth in the agricultural sector.
Empowering Youths for Agripreneurship project will consist of a mentoring process to consolidate the agricultural value chains in several aspects from pre-production related to animal, plant and fishery production to post-production related to the processing of agricultural/fishery products, product labelling, marketing and market access, in order to enhance the outputs and specific potentials, thus increasing employment and income creation opportunities.