The country’s agricultural sector is set to benefit from a $4 million (about K2.8 billion) New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) project of promoting youth entrepreneurship in the agriculture sector.
The project, dubbed Promoting Decent Rural Youth and Entrepreneurship in Agriculture and Agri-business, seeks to improve economic capabilities of the youth, improve rural industries, development of rural infrastructure and develop vocational and technical education standards and skills to create employment opportunities in rural areas.
Speaking in Lilongwe on Friday on the sidelines of a technical workshop for the project, Nepad programme manager for youth and skills development Abraham Sarfo said Malawi stands to benefit more because other countries in the region will learn from the country on how to involve the youth in the agriculture sector.
He said: “As part of the inception phase of the project, senior officers from Nepad and FAO [Food and Agriculture Organisation] visited the country to introduce the project to relevant stakeholders and it received great support.
“It is not easy to be chosen out of the 54 countries in Africa and although the resources are not enough, we will be looking for more donors when we are through with the inception phase.”
Sarfo said on the large-scale, the project will reduce unemployment among the youth as over 500 will be trained in various agricultural value chains during the three-year period the project will be running.
“We hope to partner players who are already in the sector to see how we can complement each other’s plans to bring out the best from our youth.
“We believe that with proper training and empowerment, the youth can be attracted to agriculture and make Malawi a shining example in this region,” he said.
Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism director of skills development Godfrey Kafere said youth with proper tools can transform the agriculture sector because they are in majority.
“This project has come at a right time and, as government, we are focusing on youth empowerment through construction of technical colleges. Now, if we train more young people in agriculture and inculcate in them the mind of entrepreneurship, we will be creating more jobs,” he said.
Mzuzu University dean in the faculty of environmental affairs Wales Singano, who was a facilitator at the workshop, said despite Malawi having conducive policies and strategies it has no clear strategy for youth empowerment.
“There is absence of clear strategies on how to tackle youth unemployment, and as a result, most do not venture into agriculture but vending because they want to make quick returns.
“This project will have a multiplier effect because those that will be trained will in the end employ others,” he said.
The project is being carried out in Malawi, Cameroon, Benin and Niger, according to Nepad.
Statistics from Nepad show that 60 percent of Africa’s population is made up of the youth under the age of 24 most of whom are unemployed.