The need to redefine agriculture in order to encourage the participation of the youngest was the theme of a webinar promoted by the Brazil Africa Institute (IBRAF) last Friday (May 29). The theme of the dialogue was Youth Empowerment and the Promotion of Rural Communities Sustainability and was attended by Sarah Agbor, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology for the African Union Commission; Issa Sanogo, Director of the WFP’s Regional Centre of Excellence Against Hunger and Malnutrition in Côte d’Ivoire; and Carlos Watson, Senior Coordinator of the FAO South-South and Triangular Cooperation Office.
Moderated by Professor João Bosco Monte, IBRAF’s President, the meeting focused on strategies to make agriculture and the rural environment more attractive for young people.
For Sarah Agbor, it is necessary to empower the youth. According to her, education should go beyond the classroom. “In Africa, we have land. We need to guarantee funding for these young people and stimulate the consciousness of the benefits of dedicating themselves to agriculture. We have to redefine agriculture as something ‘sexy’ for young people,” she said.
The Commissioner also stressed the need to think about actions focused on gender equality. As in Africa more than 50% of the population is made up of women, they need to be included in these strategies.
Issa Sanogo, when mentioning the problem of young people’s little interest in work related to agriculture, recalled that, on the African continent, many people leave rural areas due to lack of work and opportunities. For him, one of the keys to the issue is in technology and it is necessary to guarantee the digital literacy of youth.
“It is important to take advantage of the digital economy and the youth need to be part of that. We need to invest in digital infrastructure, for example with e-commerce, e-agriculture, etc. This is the type of investment we need to make agriculture more attractive to young people. We must be proactive and ensure that we meet their needs. Youth and women are the backbones of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he argued.
Carlos Watson also highlighted the important role that technology plays in this area and that it is fundamental to feed a growing global population, although it does not act alone. “We need to foster knowledge and encourage exchanges of technology, along with training actions. Technology is necessary, but we also need to provide training,” he argued.
The FAO Senior Coordinator also talked about the important role that international cooperation plays for development between countries was also highlighted by Watson. According to him, it is necessary to bring nations closer together and stimulate South-South and Triangular Cooperation in several areas, especially in agriculture.
At the meeting, the IBRAF president emphasized that youth empowerment is on the agenda of the Brazil Africa Institute, expressed through the Youth Technical Training Program (YTTP), which trains young Africans in Brazil’s area of excellence, especially in agriculture.
Professor João Bosco Monte also stressed that it is necessary to know the problems to develop projects that are really applicable. “Sometimes we develop something in our offices, and when we go to the field, we see that we have not produced practical results,” he said.
To conclude the webinar, IBRAF’s President quoted a famous phrase by Nelson Mandela: “The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow”. The video is available on the Brazil Africa Institute’s YouTube channel and can be watched via the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apqwondXilA&t