Rwanda President Paul Kagame Invites Youth to Take Up Leadership Role in Agriculture’s Future

Youth are best-placed to lead the agricultural revolution that will drive Africa to a season of food security and economic rejuvenation.

During this year's Youth Town Hall event at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) virtual summit in Kigali, Rwanda, H.E. President Paul Kagame challenged the youth to take up charge of the continent’s agricultural plans and strategies.

"The potential for African agriculture is immense, we need investments in value chains... so that agriculture can serve as the basis for agricultural transformation... but I want the young people to ask themselves how they will lead us to be where they want us to be," H.E. President Kagame said .

These words set the ground for an engaging discussion featuring some of Africa's youth leaders in fields related to agricultural and food value chains. All the panelists agreed that young people have the power to inject new energy into the continent's agricultural efforts.

"There are some innovations that came up during the COVID-19 storm, which showed that youth are agile and cannot be contained by droughts, locust attacks or pandemics," said Amanda Namayi, the GoGettaz Africa Lead at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

However, to get the youth engaged in agriculture even more, there are several hurdles that must be crossed.

"Our farmers are lacking in skills; agriculture is a science and for us to grow the industry to where we want to be, we must equip the youth with the necessary training for production," said Etienne Niyiagaba, of the Youth Engagement in Agriculture Network.

His sentiments were shared by Jesca Muzamhindo, a Teaching Assistant at Bindura University of Science Education, who cited how her institution had helped beekeepers in her country, Zimbabwe, to earn more through value addition.

"The gains made showed that if we capacitate our farmers to do value addition, they can move from subsistence to commercial production," she said.

Asked to name one thing from their wish lists that they would like to see implemented in Africa's agrisystems, several of the panellists highlighted the importance of technology and innovation. Ify Umunna, Program Lead, Nourishing Africa, noted that a data-led approach to farming is necessary for crafting agricultural systems of the future. She, however, lamented the unavailability of suitable data in the continent for these objectives.

"We need to generate our own data; we can't keep relying on other countries to generate data for us," she said. Other speakers appealed for financial support as some reiterated the need for youth engagement by governments.

"The biggest challenge for the youth now is engagement by their respective governments; we need sustainable solutions to continuously engage the youth," said Elizabeth Gulugulu, a Youth Delegate at the Africa Youth Initiative on Climate Change.

Ms Umunna added: "I want to see youth at the helm of conversations, it is important that we are part of the conversation when policies that affect us are set."