The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and the East Africa Community (EAC) have signed a grant agreement intended to promote urban and rural agriculture and agribusiness in order to improve youth employment in the region.
The total budget of $440,000 (Shs1.5 billion) is a one-year grant agreement which allows FAO and EAC to find a path for young people to secure decent work opportunities, as well as explore innovative e-business models in the agricultural sector.
The agreement, which took place on the margins of the just concluded African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, was signed by Mr Libérat Mfumukeko, the secretary general for EAC and Dr Patrick Kormawa, the sub-regional coordinator for Eastern Africa and FAO representative to the AU and UN Economic Commission for Africa.
The summit was held under the theme “Harnessing Africa’s Demographic Dividend by Investing in Youth”.
In his remarks Mr Mfumukeko emphasised the positive impact of the agreement by saying “the cooperation with FAO was long overdue, and the current support will go a long way in addressing pertinent issues in East Africa where agriculture is the way of life.”
Despite relatively high economic growth in the partner states of the EAC, youth unemployment remains a great concern for the region, as it slows down economies and causes social problems.
The two institutions have the tools to respond to unemployment in the EAC region. FAO has developed the expertise on youth, agriculture, livelihoods and migration.
EAC, on its part, has prepared its Youth Policy, a cornerstone for many emerging public and private initiatives.
Dr Kormawa also stressed the role of the partnership on youth.
“This Technical cooperation project (TCP) addresses one of the most pressing issues of job creation for youth in the sub region, we at FAO believe that youth employment in agriculture and agribusiness is a way of lifting a significant number of youth out of unemployment and poverty,” he said.
The agreement aims to enhance the capacity of the target countries and the EAC Secretariat to develop and implement youth-in-agriculture initiatives and to improve the East African youth’s access to information, resources and employment opportunities in the agricultural sector.
The key activities
Key activities of the new intervention would include the development of a sub-regional strategy and country action plans for promoting decent employment for youth in the agricultural sector.