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Cultivating youth-led agriculture solutions

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Writers| APOORVA REDDY NEELAPU, SARAH EDWARDS, ZHIJUN HE

Young people are hungry for job opportunities. In 2022, 69 million young people who were looking for a job were unable to find one.

At the same time, we know that agricultural development is one of the most powerful tools to end extreme poverty, boost shared prosperity, and feed a projected 10 billion people by 2050, but farmers grapple with mounting challenges such as the worsening impacts of climate change and barriers to accessing crucial resources and infrastructure. At Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE), we believe youth are a key source of innovation, inspiration, and hope in tackling development issues, including the fight for more sustainable food futures.

We recently got to know more about three members of our Youth Advisory Group (YAG) that are spearheading exciting agricultural initiatives. They are carving their own green career paths and leading creative agriculture solutions, as well as empowering their peers to do the same, unlocking new employment opportunities for youth in their communities.

Incubating success, enhancing diets

First, we spoke with Aiah Emmanuel Gborie, a 27-year-old who founded the Yormatah Youth Farmers Association (YYFA), a community-based organization operating in rural Kono District, Sierra Leone, an area traditionally dominated by the mining industry.

We were so impressed by the work Aiah is doing to create decent employment opportunities for youth while embracing an integrated climate smart agriculture approach. One of YYFA’s key initiatives is a poultry farming project that provides a cheaper alternative source of protein to the local population and helps enhance the diet of local families, especially children. YYFA also provides practical support for youth through its sustainable agriculture training centers and start-up incubators. Aiah has mentored young entrepreneurs with endeavors such as a solar-powered egg incubator to hatch crossbreed chickens and a cassava production enterprise that helps empower rural women.

Regenerative farming for multigenerational prosperity

Next, we heard from Milagros Menna, a 28-year-old from Peru who leads a Solidaridad project in Gran Chaco, the second largest forest in South America. She helps smallholder families to transition to regenerative cattle farming, boosting livelihoods while protecting and restoring the forest.

To provide job opportunities for rural youth in the area, the project also tapped into the potential of smallholder families’ sons and daughters, training them to become field technicians who can teach regenerative practices to others. The young technicians now also provide additional services related to water access infrastructure, veterinary assistance, and business management. It’s a triple win for local smallholders, youth employment prospects, and the health of the forest, underscoring the power of young leaders like Milagros.

Feeding livestock—and ambition!

Finally, we spoke with Johan Sebastián Chávez Mosquera, a 25-year-old from Colombia who co-founded BeFly, a company that uses circular economy principles to create quality animal feed. BeFly’s process involves insects (specifically, the black soldier fly) feeding on organic waste until they reach the ideal weight. Then, the insects are processed and dehydrated, creating an eco-friendly and economical protein alternative for smallholders to feed their animals.

Moreover, by co-founding the Agricultural Youth Observatory, Johan has demonstrated a profound commitment to empowering other young people in agriculture. His digital platform builds community among Colombia’s rural youth and connects them with opportunities and resources to help them pursue their own entrepreneurial ambitions.

Finding fertile ground

Youth-led, grassroots initiatives are critical for tackling agricultural challenges, and the examples explored in this blog highlight the positive domino effect that can occur when one young trailblazer wants to open doors for their peers.

But the resounding message from S4YE’s Youth Advisory Group is clear: to really make a global impact, young people need an enabling environment. Governments, donors, NGOs, agribusinesses, and farmer organizations all have an important role to play in cultivating young people’s potential. With such concerted efforts, we could see meaningful progress in making agriculture more climate resilient, productive, and profitable.

S4YE aims to bring youth perspectives and youth-led innovations to pressing development challenges through its network of 120 talented young leaders – the Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE) Youth Advisory Group (YAG) YAG members actively shape S4YE’s work program and act as a resource to any World Bank team seeking youth voice and input—while also helping youth gain exposure to international programs along the way. This blog post highlights the work of the S4YE YAG Agriculture and Informal Livelihoods Thematic Group.

Source: World Bank

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