The president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development
(IFAD) Mr Kanayo Nwanze has said investment in rural infrastructure
will stem youth exodus from rural to urban areas in Africa.
Nwanze made the recommendation at the ongoing IFAD 9th Regional
Workshop titled “Investing In Rural Youths; How Do We Plant The Seed
For The Future’’ in Abuja. The workshop which draws participants from
across West and Central Africa is aimed at reawakening the
consciousness of all stakeholders to the role of youth in agriculture
to the future of Africa.
Nwanze said investing in rural areas was necessary because it will
ensure gainful employment for rural dwellers and improve standard of
living of majority of the citizens.
“If we want young the people to stay and work in rural areas, there
is a need to be considerable investment in infrastructure.
“This includes investment in processing plants, electricity,
warehouses, roads and ports. Doing this can reduce post-harvest waste
and improve access to markets’’he said. He said Africa could create a
world where young people have something to gain, instead of a world
where they have nothing to lose; a world where young people take up
the tools for production, not arms for destruction.
According to him, nearly 22 per cent of our young people on the
continent are unemployed or under-employed saying that it was
unacceptably as it poses great risks to society. He predicted that
around 224 million young people will be seeking employment in the next
decade in the sub-Saharan Africa and that at least 60 per cent (134
million) will live in rural areas.
Nwanze said in order for the continent to meet its enormous potential,
it must develop the agricultural sector. The president said Africa
needed agriculture because humans have not yet been engineered to live
without food and it provides employment for over 60 per cent of
Africa’s workforce, including 70 per cent of its rural population.
According to him, GDP growth generated by agriculture is at least
three times more effective in reducing poverty than GDP growth in any
other sectors. He said it is time to reverse decades of neglect of
African agriculture as abandoning agriculture was abandoning the
nation’s ability to feed itself.
Nwanze said to meet Africa’s demand, the continent needed young
people to be the farmers and food processors not just to feed
themselves and their villages, but to grow the food to feed cities.
“Let me be clear, these opportunities must be as accessible to young
women as they are to men. Africa will not advance and take its
rightful place as a global leader unless it moves beyond the out-dated
mentality of past centuries, and offers our daughters the same rights
and opportunities as our sons”.
“These are areas of improvement that we, at IFAD, contribute to
either directly through the projects we support, or indirectly through
our advocacy efforts’’, he said.