In a small village in western Kenya, I had my first encounter with farming. Farming was hugely defined by women waking up early every day, with a hoe and a machete, and spending a whole day physically tilling the land. The little inherited knowledge was enough to manage farms.
My name is Pilirani Khoza and I am writing from Malawi, in the warm heart of Africa. I have two years of working experience as a research assistant at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR). In 2012, I founded Bunda Female Students Organisation (BUFESO), a student-led initiative with the simple goal of encouraging girls to become academically involved in the field of science and agriculture by providing scholarships to needy students.
My name is Laetitia Victoria Mukungu and I am from Kenya. I am a third-year student at EARTH University in Costa Rica, where I study Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resource Management. My passion lies in rural women’s empowerment, food security and child education.
In Ghana, the cocoa sector is at a turning point where it needs revitalization and modernization to make it more competitive, resilient and robust. Cocoa production is Ghana’s largest agricultural activity, accounting for 8 percent of the country’s GDP and supporting approximately thirty percent of the population.
For our 2017 Young Africa Works Summit, we chose a photo that captures the theme ‘youth driving agricultural transformation’.
The notion that Africa’s economic growth hinges on the modernization of its agricultural sector is not a new one. Academics, economists and practitioners alike have been weighing in on the “green revolution” in Africa since the 1970s.
The need for agricultural transformation on the continent, however, has never been more pressing, with a rapidly growing population, an increasing severity of impacts from climate change and a surge of public and private interest and investment in the sector.
The Young Africa Works Summit took place in Cape Town South Africa on October 29-30th 2015. I had the privilege to represent The MasterCard Foundation Youth Think Tank Team of 2015/16.
The Young Africa Works Summit opened doors for youth who are involved in the agricultural sector, be it research, farming, processing, marketing and other occupations along the food value chain. Leticia’s story of starting rabbit farming at the age of 14 has the potential to influence policy and partnerships that can ensure that youth under the age of 18 have access to land and loans for investment in agriculture.
“Progress does not look the same everywhere. In Africa, challenges are challenges, but there are also opportunities to innovate.”
Nigerian-American author and journalist, Dayo Olopade opened day two of the Young Africa Works Summit with a reminder – the solutions to problems like unemployment are not always linear, and a strong preference for formality – or ‘formality bias’ – may lead us to overlook the resilience of the informal sector.
At The MasterCard Foundation’s inaugural Young Africa Works Summit, CNBC Africa’s Thomas Maree interviewed delegates on how we can prepare youth for employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in agriculture. Topics included agriculture in Africa and its growth prospects, finance models and the role of technology.
Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation, on the growth prospects for African agriculture.