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Young girls celebrating a good sweetpotato harvest, Ethiopia Photo Credit: N Kwikiriza

Part 4 of 4: TOPIC 16 OF THE SEED SYSTEMS COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE

Empowering the Youth Through Agriculture: What Is Their Role in Sweetpotato Seed Systems?

Lead discussant: Aime Ndayisenga (CIP Rwanda)

Compiled by Kwame Ogero

 

Cont’d: How do we get the youth more involved in the sweetpotato value-chain?

3)  Capacity building on agribusiness skills.

Mentorship and training programs to impart agronomic, processing and business skills can also lead to an increase in the number of young people involved in sweetpotato production. Equipping the youth with such skills will put them in a good position to take up sweetpotato production as a business. Agronomy skills can range from the basics such as pest and disease management, planting and scheduling of production to the advanced skills of producing roots of desired sizes. Puree technology and incorporation in baking is an important skill that can foster value-addition. Young people also need to learn how to calculate cost-benefit analysis, identify markets and negotiate prices

4)  Linkages to credit service providers.

Inadequate access to financial services is one of the key constraints for youth wishing to go into agriculture. Training of young people in agribusiness should be linked with programs to ensure access to capital like unsecured loans and competitive grants among others.

5) Using successful case studies to attract more young people into agriculture.

Peer mentorship programs can also play a great role in getting young people into agriculture by fostering knowledge and experience sharing. Development programs can also start with those who are ready to engage in agribusiness. Success stories of young farmers engaged within the sweetpotato value-chain can be shared through the media and other channels to show what is possible.

6)  Policy interventions.

Young people should be involved in agricultural policy dialogues to ensure their needs are catered for. In addition, policy interventions aimed at increasing sweetpotato production and utilization can open new opportunities for the youth along the value-chain. For instance, policies aimed at including OFSP in the school feeding programs and inclusion of OFSP flour in bread, biscuits and other confectionaries can open the market therefore making OFSP production from vine to root lucrative. In addition, policies committing governments to provide financial support for youth initiatives along agricultural value chains should be pursued.

Conclusion

In 2015, a report by the African Development Bank projected that Africa’s agricultural output would increase from US$ 280 billion per year to as much as US$ 880 billion by the year 2030 if constraints in the system are removed. Young people have a lot to contribute to this if they take advantage of the many opportunities in the sector. Developing agricultural value chains and encouraging crop diversification will open many entry points for youth involvement. There are many opportunities to be exploited in the sweetpotato value-chain despite the crop being traditionally considered as subsistence crop. There has been a lot of investments in terms of finance, advocacy, capacity building, processing, promotion and marketing. With a welldeveloped value chain, it will be possible to get more youth involvement. However, if the value chain is immature, it will be very difficult to attract the youth because of non-profitability. Favourable policies, capacity building in technical and business skills and linkages to financial and support services will also contribute to increased youth involvement in agriculture. However, in the end it will all depend on interest and change of mindsets among young people. The youth need to stop viewing agriculture as a non-profitable sector only reserved for old age.

Contributors 1. Donata Kiiza 2. Jean Claude Nshimiyimana 3. Moses Sila 4. Nessie Luambano 5. Emmanuel Anedo 6. Kwame Ogero 7. Mihiretu Cherinet 8. Sam Namanda 9. Joseph Okalebo 10. Geofrey Arinaitwe 11. Jean Ndirigwe 12. Florence Munguti 13. Richard Gibson 14. Kirimi Sindi 15. Chifundo Kapalamula-Mussa 16. Srinivasulu Rajendran 17. Ted Carey 18. Simpson Biryabaho 19. Steve Walsh 20. Kennedy Masamba 21. Simon Heck

 From 10 Countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda Tanzania, Uganda, UK and USA)

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