By Kodjo Adams, GNA
Accra, Aug 14, GNA - Mr Edson Mpyisi, Principal Agricultural Economist on Monday said the African Development Bank (AFDB), would soon set up a fund to provide support to start-up businesses for Africa youth who are desirous to venture into agriculture.
He said proposed fund dubbed “Youth Agripreneurial Fund” would provide seed capital at a low interest rate to address challenges in the sector.
He said the move was crucial because most of the youth who wanted to venture into agriculture complained of lack of financial support and the unwillingness of the banks to provide credit facilities to them.
Mr Mpyisi told the Ghana News Agency in an interview ahead of the African Green Revolution Forum to be organised from September 4 to 8 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on the theme: “Accelerating Africa’s Path to Prosperity: Growing Inclusion Economics and Jobs through Agriculture”.
The Forum is an annual platform established in 2010 for global and African leaders to develop actionable plans to move African agriculture forward and achieve green revolution in Africa.
The forum would be in partnership with Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and its development partners including the Rockefeller Foundation, Grow Africa and AFDB.
The forum would provide a session for youth in agribusiness and entrepreneurship, research and technology, access to financing, how to develop enterprise, and a youth fair where the youth would present their services to the participants for business to business network.
He said agriculture was a growing sector with great potential in the continent, and that the sector currently has a market of 30 billion dollars and can grow to about one trillion-dollar market by 2030, hence the need for the bank to support the youth to engage in agribusiness.
“It is imperative for African leaders to start to think about agriculture as business and not only the traditional farming for livelihood, saying this phenomenon requires adequate investment in the sector for expansion”, he said.
Speaking about the role of AFDB in attracting the youth to venture into Agriculture, Mr Mpyisi said the Bank in 2016 launched the Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment (ENABLE) Youth Programme under the Feed Africa Strategy to help engage the youth in agriculture on a business-oriented scale.
The objective of the programme is to create business opportunities and employment for young women and men along priority agricultural value chains in African countries.
Under the ENABLE programme, AFDB has approved six projects in six countries-Nigeria, Zambia, Malawi, Dr Congo, Cameroon and Sudan to support youth in agribusiness with a total amount of 750 million dollars and hope to extend the countries to 15 in 2018.
Mr Mpyisi, who is also the Coordinator of the ENABLE programme at AFDB, expressed concern about the increasing rate of youth unemployment in Africa, saying the agriculture sector could be an option to absorb the youth in the sector to reduce the pressure on the industry and manufacturing companies.
Mr Mpyisi said the bank introduced a project dubbed “Jobs for Youth in Africa” a strategy to create 25 million jobs and positively impact 50 million youth over the next decade.
He said to accomplish the goal; the Strategy 2016-2025 aims to increase inclusive employment and entrepreneurship, strengthen human capital, and creates durable labour market linkages by making use of three strategic intervention areas: Integration, Innovation, and Investment.
Touching on funding opportunities for the youth to acquire innovative technologies to engage in agriculture, Mr Mpyisi said their outfit had initiated a project ‘Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation’.
He explained that the project sought to raise $40Bn yearly to adopting modern and commercial agriculture to transform livelihood of African youth, especially the rural poor.
He, therefore, called for partnership with development partners to move agriculture from traditional farming to real business venture, saying many developed countries attain high level of economic stability because much priority was given into the agricultural sector.