IFAD-CARE contributing to policy making through research

With Africa’s population set to double by 2050 according to a report from the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) in Washington, there is a growing concern for the urgent nature of food security, youth unemployment, poverty and addressing zero hunger across the Continent. Studies have shown that in order to address these key issues that are linked to agriculture, recommendations and innovations derived from research results are pivotal.
The transformation of the agricultural sector is of critical importance, since it will continue to be the main sector to stimulate economic growth. A strategic involvement of Africa’s youth in rural development, agriculture and natural resources management will boost economic growth across Africa as the youth of today will likely be the future drivers of the world’s food systems and markets.
As a growing wave of programmes, agribusinesses and agripreneurs moves across the continent to address these issues of food security, youth unemployment, poverty and zero hunger, there are attendant challenges associated with these development. Specifically, the lack of research and evidence based information concerning the nature of the problem and potential solutions, to guide both policy development and programme implementation.
Research has shown that the process of policy development can be impacted positively if research recommendations are adopted to address challenges inherent in the society.
With the agricultural sector witnessing youths who are taking advantage of current agricultural research and the new technologies being developed and tailored to African agro-ecologies. African young people are discovering that they can make farming a profitable career, yet there is a huge need to strengthen the system to ensure sustainability of the transformation process in order to achieve the goal of youth employment, food security and zero hunger.
In order to address these issues including the seeming little youth-specific research on self-employment and the need for more scholarly research on factors affecting rural economic activities in Africa, the Enhancing Capacity to Apply Research Evidence (CARE) in Policy for Youth Engagement in Agribusiness and Rural Economic Activities in Africa, a three year project funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), is strategically positioned to contribute to the growth of a new paradigm for knowledge creation that will lead to the development of effective policies and agribusiness development in Africa.
The project being implemented by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), provides grants and support for young African scholars who aim to acquire a Masters’ or Doctoral degree while strengthening their capacity in generating, appraising and disseminating evidence-based results to inform future action plans for national governments, the international community, the business sector and local communities.
Speaking with one of the grantees, Dolapo Adeyanju, a Nigerian national and a research Masters Student at the Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nairobi, Kenya in collaboration with the university of Pretoria, South Africa whose recent research work focuses on the impact of agricultural programmes on youth agripreneurship performance in Nigeria, revealed that research recommendations are essential for practical policy makings. “Policy makers cannot operate in a vacuum. Sometimes, they do not have enough knowledge to develop appropriate policies which calls for relevant evidence which comes from research results and recommendations”, she stated.
According to Ms. Adeyanju, ‘In recent times, many young people have come to see and accept agribusiness as a sustainable and profitable career choice. Even though it can be said that there is still a lot to be put in place in terms of creating an enabling environment for young agribusiness owners in form of policies and interventions that could help young agripreneurs and prospective ones”.
Another of the grantees, Suleiman Umar, a research fellow from the Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; who is working on factors affecting rural to urban migration and its effects on the society, stated that there is need for continuous reinforcement of mindset change, coaching and mentoring of young people in Africa to understand the importance of agriculture and youths can engage in agribusiness. By implication, their engagement in agribusiness will have an increasing effect on the economy and the society at large, in terms of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Gross National Product (GNP) and other indicators.
The CARE project which presently has 30 beneficiaries ultimately aims to improve the availability, exchange, dissemination and use of research findings in the field of agribusiness and rural economic activities from young African scholars into policy and practice in support of economic growth and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, working at local, national and regional levels in Africa.

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