The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27, is dubbed ‘African COP’ as the impact of climate change on African countries will be a key theme of discussions. Agriculture and food systems will also be a critical focus of COP27, with Saturday, 12 November, dedicated to both themes, in addition to adaptation. Also high on the climate agenda is the role of the youth, as 10 November is dedicated to their participation.
Ahead of COP27 and in line with their commitment to this youth agenda, the African Development Bank and the Global Center on Adaptation hosted a webinar to examine ways to make agriculture attractive to the youth.
The webinar titled, Are Climate-Smart and Digital Agriculture Solutions the Silver Bullet to Attract Youth, highlighted the potential of climate-smart and digital agriculture in attracting young people and thereby rejuvenating an aging global agricultural sector.
Dr. Kevin Kariuki, African Development Bank’s Vice President for Power Energy, Climate and Green Growth, pointed out the challenges the agriculture sector faces due to the changing climate change.
“Agriculture across most of sub-Saharan Africa is still predominantly rain-fed and therefore extremely vulnerable to both short-term fluctuations and long-term changes in climate conditions. It is the most exposed sector with estimates indicating that climate change will cause a decrease in yields of 8 – 22% for Africa’s rain-fed staple crops over the next 20 years,” Kariuki said.
Dr. Beth Dunford, African Development Bank’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, noted that while agriculture holds tremendous potential for job creation in Africa, its current traditional form is not attractive to young people for various reasons, including negative perceptions.
“Who wants to wear overalls, dig the field with a hoe or drive a tractor when we can do it in a suit and dust coat, right? However, technology makes agriculture cool enough to motivate them to use tech-enabled enterprises to be part of agricultural value chains,” Dunford said.
Prof. Anthony Nyong, Senior Director for Africa at the Global Centre on Adaptation, said: “There is a gap in the agriculture sector in Africa, and that is in the use of digital solutions.”
AAAP’s Climate Smart Digital Technologies for Agriculture and Food Security Pillar is scaling up access to digital technologies and associated data-driven agricultural and financial services for at least 30 million African farmers.
In the African Development Bank’s Program to Build Resilience for Food and Nutrition Security in the Horn of Africa (BREFONS), currently ongoing in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan, the AAAP is facilitating the integration of climate-smart digital technologies for adaptation and resilience.
“The project will increase the productivity of crops and livestock by 30%, reaching about 1.3 million farmers and pastoralists using climate services such as index insurance. About 55,000 additional jobs will be created for youth and women,” said Oluyede Ajayi, Africa Program Lead, Food Security and Rural Well Being, Global Centre on Adaptation.
Panelists said the youth must utilize their digital skills to accelerate the transformation of the agricultural sector, which forms the central pillar of Africa’s economy. They urged participants to contribute to solutions that enhance market linkages to promote agribusiness.
“Africa’s significant youth population faces rising unemployment with myriad negative consequences. These challenges are further exacerbated by climate shocks, skill gaps & limited preparedness to address the effects of climate change,” said Andre-Marie Taptue, Principal Economist at the African Development Bank’s Jobs for Youth program.
AAAP’s YouthAdapt program promotes sustainable job creation through entrepreneurship in climate adaptation and resilience in Africa by unlocking $3 billion in credit for adaptation action.
Last year, the first set of ten young African entrepreneurs and Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises offering innovative solutions and business ideas that can drive climate change adaptation and resilience were awarded at COP26 in Glasgow. This year the Africa Youth Adaptation Competition 20 enterprises across Africa will each receive up to $100,000 in addition to mentorship and coaching to support their climate change adaptation innovation.
Panelists included Claude Migisha from the African Development Bank, Dr. Fleur Wouterse, and Aramide Abe from the Global Center of Adaptation. They shared their views on how AAAP was shaping and adding value to the Bank Digital Agriculture Flagship program, ways to accelerate investor engagement in agriculture adaptation, and how the YouthADAPT was moving the needle on entrepreneurship, unlocking finance and job creation.
Gislaine Matiedje Nkenmayi from Mumita Holdings, a recipient of the 2021 YouthADAPT Challenge award, shared her experience on how the $100,000 grant transformed her enterprise.
“With the grant, we were able to reach out to more than 10 cooperatives with a total of 257 smallholder farmers, to whom we offer free advisory services, low-cost greenhouses and solar-powered irrigation systems. We have been able to expand production from 100kg to 1000kg of fresh vegetables weekly,” Nkenmayi said.
In her concluding remarks, Edith Ofwona Adera, Principal Regional Climate Change Officer and AAAP coordinator at the Bank stressed the need to strengthen adaptation and resilience measures and expedite mainstreaming climate adaptation for transformation at scale. She called for the engagement of the private sector, given the role they can play in adapting to climate change, financing adaptation, and supporting others through products and services for resilience.
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