Addressing key Issues for the Future of Agriculture at the European Development Days 2017

CTA at the European Development Days 2017

Addressing key Issues for the Future of Agriculture: Youth, Women and Trade

Agriculture and sustainable economic development in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries were the focus of five panel debates held during the European Development Days. Over twenty speakers representing leading policymakers, women entrepreneurs, young agribusiness innovators and trade experts presented the case for streamlining regulation, implementation of inclusive policies and increased technical support to create jobs, modernise agriculture and strengthen public and private sector capacities in ACP countries.

The European Development Days 2017 took place under the theme of “Investing in Development”, and the five debate sessions in which CTA participated looked at successful approaches, innovations and partnerships for delivering a more prosperous agricultural sector in ACP countries. Altogether, the five sessions were delivered before packed rooms. In addition to more than 400 participants, the events gathered a significant online audience following the coverage live on Twitter; there were over 274 visitors to the online page for the debate, and over 900 liked and retweeted tweets related to the EDD.

In her opening address during for first session, President Bibi Ameenah Firdaus Gurib-Fakim of the Republic of Mauritius captured the key themes and issues addressed by the five panels: “Meaningful intra-ACP trading opportunities need to be developed and consolidated where they already exist. To achieve this, the ACP economies must keep on their diversification efforts. One of the areas of focus would be agribusiness for small-scale farmers through improved productivity and processing…The agricultural sector has the potential to create jobs through entrepreneurship if they are supported by ICT infrastructure and technology as well as post-harvest logistics. Exports will be boosted if there is a reduction of technical barriers to trade.”

Agricultural transformation and sustainable development – linkages and opportunities

The opportunities for agriculture to play a transformational role in achieving sustainable development were presented by the high-level panel of the session on Innovative agriculture for next generation farms. Combining perspectives from the private sector and international organisations, the speakers emphasised the need to scale up the development, availability and uptake of appropriate technologies in agriculture, as the sector is not reaching its full potential in many developing countries, particularly in Africa. Small-scale farmers and youth should be especially positioned to capitalise on the gains that technology can provide.

“Taking the case of Africa, both in terms of the SDGs and the Malabo declaration there is a huge expectation from agriculture in terms of creating employment and in terms of addressing food and nutrition,” noted CTA’s Michael Hailu during the session, “so technology, especially ICTs and data, are enablers in making sure that this happens. The question is how to scale this up, how to make it sustainable, and how to support youth and farmers to ow the data.”

Youth in agribusiness and women entrepreneurs – key pillars for jobs, growth and innovation

Job creation and value addition are two big areas of concern in ACP countries, as it is imperative to translate economic growth into opportunities for youth and sustainable and inclusive development which reduces poverty and inequality. The agricultural presents the strongest opportunities for countries to contribute to these objectives, but it is a sector which is challenged by low investment, and often also a poor image.

The EDD sessions on Youth in Agribusiness and Women entrepreneurs presented important lessons for policymakers and the private sector to support inclusive investment into the agricultural sector, based on the experience of successful agropreneurs and public-private partnerships.

Investment into innovation and value addition should be among the top priorities of agribusiness entrepreneurs, argued Dalitso Luke Mbewe, Director of Tapera Bio Industries in Zambia and Lovin Kobusingye, Managing Director of Kati Farms in Uganda. Speaking in the Youth and Women sessions respectively, they were also very emphatic about the need to develop a successful business model which can be sustained without the support of donors and the government.

Enhancing and enabling partnerships between entrepreneurs and producers is critical, as in the case of Kati Farms, which was developed in cooperation with a local fisheries co-operative. During the session on Women, Marie-Joseph Medzeme Engama, Expert on agricultural value chains for the Central Africa farmer’s organisation (PROPAC) also emphasised the importance of co-operatives in enabling cassava producers in Cameroon, SOCOOPMATPA, to move up the value chain and successfully enter into markets that are more profitable.

ICT is also playing a transformational role in helping to create jobs, spurring agricultural innovation and supporting greater participation of youth and women in the economy. Vanessa Erogbogbo, Head of Women and Trade Programme at the International Trade Centre (ITC), spoke at the session on women about SheTrades, an online digital platform which enables women entrepreneurs and women led businesses to trade, network and transact with thousands of others on the platform. Martin Stimela, the Managing Director, ‎Brastorne Enterprises, Bostwana discussed how ICT enabled him to come from a non-agricultural background and eventually develop an award winning mobile application, mAgri, which allows farmers, producers and traders to access up to date information by mobile, make transactions for sales and purchases, and also share news and developments affordably.

Access to finance and development of skills and capacity for youth and women were noted as challenges which require targeted partnerships in order address. Speaking at the Youth session, Christiaan Rebergen, Director General for International Cooperation at Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, argued in favour of greater investment by the private sector into skills development, capacity building and education of youth and entrepreneurs. In the Netherlands, this approach has helped to create a workforce that can respond to the needs of a dynamic and growing economy.

Business incubation is also emerging as a popular and cost effective approach to improve the skills of entrepreneurial youth and help their start-ups to access finance and grow. This was shown by Alieu Jallow, Founder of the Gambia Young Entrepreneurs Association and EDD Young Leader, whose most successful incubatee has been a young agribusiness entrepreneur in the poultry sector. Heike Rüttgers, Head of Division, Development & Impact Finance in the EIB, emphasised the importance for lending institutions to include gender mainstreaming in their activities during the session on Women.

Inclusive and sustainable trade – leveraging regional and international opportunities

ACP countries are heading towards a new trade paradigm. On the one hand, regional trade opportunities are being aggressively pursued, particularly in Africa where the continent aims to establish a continental free trade area by 2017. On the other hand, Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU have been signed with many ACP regions, with fundamentally revise trading and investment terms between the two parties. This is in addition to efforts at sub-regional levels to eliminate or reduce barriers to trade, ranging from infrastructure investments to greater regulatory cooperation.

Policymakers, trade experts and leading EU officials discussed these and other ACP trade related issues at the EDD sessions first on Boosting Investment for ACP Inclusive Trade and Development, and second, on Promoting inclusive trade in Africa. Both panels delivered a strong message on the need to create an enabling business environment to encourage investment and enable SME’s to undertake more regional trade. Creating a conducive regulatory framework featured strongly as an issue that should be prioritised by policymakers in Africa to address the high levels of informal economic activity and reduce the volumes of capital flight from the region.

Stefano Manservisi, the European Commission’s Director General for International Cooperation and Development addressed this point directly during the session on Promoting inclusive trade in Africa. “Small scale trading in Africa is still the vast majority – 72% is in the informal economy…Working in the informal sector is not a choice, it is the result of a poor regulatory framework in which to do business.”

Frank Matsaert, CEO of TradeMark East Africa further elaborated on this issue, explaining how the simplified trading regime supported TradeMark East Africa helps to streamline cross border trade regulation, thus reducing the compliance costs borne by small traders, especially women.

“You have to have conditions in the regulatory environment for investment to take place”, noted Roberto Ridolfi, Director for Sustainable Growth and Development in the European Commission during the Boosting Investment for ACP session, adding that this applies especially towards stimulating domestic investment. Pamela Coke-Hamilton from the Caribbean Export Development Agency noted that best practices and lessons on investment promotion should be share more frequently among ACP regions and scaled up.

Standards play an important role in regional trade and exports to the EU. They were highlighted by many of panellists in the two trade sessions as a means for ACP countries to enhance integration – through the harmonisation of standards – and for producers to move up the value chain, either through compliance with voluntary sustainability standards or through product differentiation.

Hermogene Nsengimana CEO of the African Organisation for Standardisation and Masego Marobela, Managing Director of Botswana Bureau of Standards explained that efforts that were taking place at the regional levels in Africa to harmonise standards, to create regional centres of excellence for standards and to develop more collaboration with partners, particularly the private sector and other international standard setting bodies. Janet Ngombalu from the Eastern African Grain Council (EAGC) noted that the private sector and producers can take advantage of standards in order to be more competitive and also promote value addition and regional trade, as has been the case with grain producers in Eastern Africa.

Leveraging EU investment for inclusive growth and sustainable development

EU support and priorities were discussed at numerous points during the five sessions. Koen Doens, Director East and Southern Africa and ACP coordination, European Commission – DG for International Cooperation and Development noted that in the context of the EPAs, the EU was keen to focus its efforts in supporting ACP countries to build their capacity to add value and produce goods that can be traded, echoing the statements made earlier by Mr Ridolfi. These efforts would form a significant portion of the EU’s recently launched External Investment Plan, which aims to de-risk investment into Africa through three pillars: the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD); technical assistance for broader policy environment to help attract investors and engage the private sector; and programmes to improve the investment climate and the overall policy environment.

A clear focus of these investment programmes will lie in supporting employment creation and decent jobs, particularly for youth and women. In this regard, the European Commission’s Leonard Mizzi also highlighted that that many of the best solutions to the challenges faced by Africa come from local entrepreneurs and the private sector, so the EU will support funding instruments to scale up research and innovation and agricultural funding opportunities.

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Latest Brussels Briefing 49: “Youth in agribusiness: shaping the future of agriculture”

The latest Brussels Development Briefing no. 49 on “Youth in agribusiness: shaping the future of agriculture” took place on 18th of May 2017 from 09:00 to 13:00, at the ACP Secretariat in Brussels, Belgium. This Briefing was co-organised by CTA, the ACP Secretariat, European Commission (DG DEVCO), Concord, PAFO and AgriCord.

**Webstream: Click here to watch the event live **

**View the coverage on Twitter: @BruBriefings **

Almost 88% of the world’s 1.2 billion youth live in developing countries. Globally, young people account for approximately 24% of the working poor and this dynamic is particularly pronounced in Africa, where over 70% of youth subsist on US$2 per day or less. Although the world’s youth population is expected to grow, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for young women and men remain limited – particularly for those living in economically stagnant rural areas of developing countries. Projections indicate that 60% of the world’s labour force growth between 2010 and 2050 will be in Africa which has the youngest population in the world, with 200 million aged between 15 and 24 (doubling by 2045 according to the AFDB).

In Africa, agriculture, is still in most cases the sector which can absorb large numbers of new job seekers and offer meaningful work with public and private benefits. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the transition into agriculture begins early.  The vast majority of teenagers who work are working in agriculture. At age 15, of the 60% of those who are working, almost 90% are working in agriculture. The share working outside agriculture increases steadily with age, largely because young people who leave school at higher grades enter other sectors. In rural areas, where limited educational opportunities prevent youths from staying in school for very long, agriculture employs more than 90% of 15- and 16-year-olds, and about 80% of young people ages 24 and older remain in agriculture (although some who report agriculture as their primary activity also have a non-farm activity as well). Women who work are more likely to work in agriculture than men—and unlike men their probability of working in agriculture does not decrease much with age. One reason why so many women remain in agriculture is that they leave school sooner, so employment opportunities are set much earlier for females than for males.

The creation of employment opportunities for young people is among the major development challenges of our time. Changing the vision of youth towards agriculture must happen. In this context, youth-related policies and programmes should seek to identify specific, priority interventions that add value. Policy makers should see the value of investing in empowering youth to strengthen and sustain the foundation for agricultural transformation. Creating more and better jobs, in particular for the growing young rural labour force, should be an explicit objective in agriculture and rural development programmes and youth focused policies and investments in agriculture and rural development should be a priority. Boosting incentives to improve the quality of education will also be key to produce a skilled workforce. We need to increase the understanding of the specific needs of young people, improving the capacity of youth to profitably engage in activities along the agricultural value chain and improve access to markets and finance. As youth are often marginalised in these processes, platforms and mechanisms for their engagement need to be put into place to enable them to fully participate in the policy dialogue, make their voice heard and give recognition to their status.

NEW! on the subject of Youth in Agribusiness

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Background Note and Programme

Highlights

Photos

Biodata of the speakers 

Resources

Programme

8h00-9h00 Registration
9h00-9h20 Introduction of the Briefing: Isolina Boto, Manager, CTA Brussels Office [video]

Introductory remarks: Viwanou Gnassounou, Assistant-Secretary-General, ACP Secretariat [video]; Leonard Mizzi, Head of Unit Rural Development, Food Security, Nutrition, Europeaid, European Commission [video]; Estelle Gallot, Expert, AgriCord [video]; Fatma Ben Rejeb, CEO, Panafrican Farmer’s Organisation (PAFO) [video]; Michael Hailu, Director, CTA [video]

9h20-11h00 Panel 1: Employment creation for youth in the agricultural sector
This panel will bring various perspectives on youth employment from research, policy and practice and define key actions to be taken to support youth in agribusiness.
Panellists:
– Experiences of youth going into agriculture: main drivers of success
Betty Wampfler, Deputy Director, IRC / Supagro, France [presentation|video]
– Promoting innovation and entrepreneurship through incubation
Peter Kuria Githinji, Director Business Development and Partnerships, African Agribusiness Incubators Network (AAIN), Ghana [presentation|video]
– Improving financial inclusion of Youth through ICTs
Gerald Otim, Founder and Chief operating officer, Ensibuuko, Uganda [presentation|video]

Panel 1 – Debate  [video]

11h00-11h15 Coffee break

11h00-13h00 Panel 2: Young farmers and entrepreneurs: successes and opportunities ahead
This panel will share concrete successes across ACP countries from young entrepreneurs working in the agribusiness sector and will discuss the drivers of success and their replicability and upscaling.
Panellists:
– Youth Participation in agro-processing in Malawi
Maness Ngoma Nkhata, Lakeshore Agro-Processing Enterprise (LAPE), Malawi [presentation|video]
– E-commerce opportunities for farmers
Bertrand Foffe, Founder, Jangolo Farm, Cameroon [presentation|video]
– Improved agricultural information access through ICTs
Patrick Sakyi, Expert mobile commerce business, Farmerline, Ghana [presentation|video]

Panel 2 – Debate [video]

Conclusion
Leonard Mizzi Head of Unit Rural Development, Food Security, Nutrition, Europeaid, European Commission [video]; Michael Hailu, Director, CTA [video]

Highlights Brussels Briefing 48: Rural – Urban Linkages in Africa

Senior experts and policymakers presented important lessons and opportunities for African countries to strengthen linkages between rural and urban areas at a Brussels Briefing which took place on Monday 20th March 2017. The event, held under the title of “Strengthening rural livelihoods in the face of rapid urbanisation in Africa”, attracted a wide audience of over 130 participants representing the ACP and EU diplomatic and development communities present at the ACP Secretariat, and an online audience of over 100 following via Webstream.  It was organised by CTA, in partnership with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the German Development Agency (GIZ), the Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation of the European Commission (EC/DEVCO), the ACP Secretariat and Concord (the European NGO confederation for Relief and Development).

This debate, which comes at a time of increased focus on Africa’s demographic boom and rapid urbanisation, sought to consider the implications for rural jobs and youth, migration and economic transformation in the continent. Employment, especially for youth, agricultural transformation, and the use of peri-urban areas and small intermediary cities as service hubs emerged as the dominant talking points of the Briefing.

The discussions pointed out the importance of infrastructure to link rural, peri-urban and urban areas, particularly the construction of good roads that can reduce transportation costs and promote development of the off-farm economy. Furthermore, a strong emphasis was placed on the need to make rural transformation inclusive through the right policy interventions and finance mechanisms.

Several examples of successes from producers, young entrepreneurs, researchers and policy makers highlighted new opportunities for value-chain actors in the context of urbanisation and stronger rural-urban linkages. Of significance in terms of emerging trends is the growing demand created by urban consumers, which offers new markets for farmers and entrepreneurs in fresh and processed foods.

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