Determinants influencing youth engagement in agribusiness

With agribusiness gaining more attention in the domain of entrepreneurship development, small enterprises in agriculture run by youths can contribute significantly to economic growth, poverty reduction, and address the issue of youth unemployment across Africa.
Despite a growing concern on the lack of interest with agriculture amongst youths on the continent, engaging youths in agriculture has become a prominent topic and has risen in the development agenda. According to Larissa Nawo, a young researcher with the IITA-CARE project, agriculture which is the developing world’s single biggest source of employment plays a pivotal role in the economic development of Africa, and Cameroon in particular.
With the necessary support, policies, and infrastructure, small-scale agriculture practiced by youths in rural areas, can offer sustainable and productive alternative to the expansion of large‐scale, capital‐intensive, labor‐displacing corporate farming.
Following the IFAD-sponsored study carried out in the centre region of Cameroon, Larissa identified factors that drive choice for youths among the three common types of agribusiness models – plantations, commercial, and contract farming. According to the survey, the semi-urban and rural areas of Cameroon’s centre region show that, despite the gender, youths are mainly engaged in commercial farming rather than plantations or contract farming.
Also, the level of education – from primary school to tertiary, size and ownership of land – for inherited and rented land, has considerable influence on the youths’ decision to engage in plantations and contract farming. While gender and access to white collar employment have a negative and significant influence on youth’s decision to engage in agribusiness.
With the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbating youth unemployment across the globe, the shortage of decent work in low- and middle-income countries is a pressing global issue facing young people presently, hence, the study proffers several recommendations that can help policymakers create sustainable policies that will engender systems to initiate an enabling environment for youths to thrive in agribusiness.
According to Larissa, increasing youth female participation in agribusiness models can initiate inclusive growth and better results. While policies can be put in place to ensure market systems enable affordable or subsidized costs of agriculture tools and machines, amongst other things to encourage youths in agribusiness and plantation farming.
While the study also suggests the importance of encouraging financial institutions to lend greater percentage of their portfolio to youth agripreneurs through Public-Private Partnership schemes; education level had a significant impact on the annual revenue generated among the youths.
The IITA-CARE project is exploring ways to engage policymakers to adopt some of the recommendations being proffered by the research being carried out, as this will ensure youths become beneficiaries of a sustainable system that provides employment and reduce poverty.
With activities across 10 countries in Africa, the IITA is working with young researchers under the IFAD-sponsored Enhancing Capacity to Apply Research Evidence (CARE) in Policy for Youth Engagement in Agribusiness and Rural Economic Activities in Africa project, to seek and enhance the understanding of the poverty reduction and employment impact, including the factors influencing youth engagement in agribusiness and rural farm and non-farm economy.

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