WEBINAR: Youth in Agribusiness: Coping with COVID-19

WEBINAR: Youth in Agribusiness: Coping with COVID-19

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), IFDC-2SCALE, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN-FAO), AgriProFocus, the Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN) and the Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative (SIANI) hosted an online discussion on the Climate and Agriculture Network for Africa ( CANA ) platform.
  • Ian Mutwiri of HomeRange Poultry shared how his team has developed online manuals on poultry farming, which are freely available online, and how his team is using social media platforms, such as Youtube and Facebook, to conduct training sessions targeting the youth. 
  • Antony Malovi (CSAYN) has developed a solar drier using locally available materials given that he could not import any as a result of COVID-19 lockdown.
  • Ruhakana Taremwa, AgriProFocus member and CEO Agrotourism noted that COVID-19 had really had an impact on agrotourism; with partial lockdown in Uganda there are no opportunities for youth to visit each other’s agribusiness to learn and network however, with technology they have been able to conduct their trainings online. He also commended the Ugandan government for its increase in this year’s budget allocations towards the agriculture sector.
  • Marzia Pafumi, Youth Engagement Specialist (FAO), argued that youth agripreneurs responded to COVID-19 very fast, trying to adapt their business models and thinking outside the box to find new opportunities. She mentioned that as a result of the pandemic, there has been an accelerated move to online marketing and sales, such as orders on social media, home delivery and an increase in mobile payments. Agripreneurs also started to work more with adding value to primary products. Many of them started to use locally sourced agricultural inputs.
  • Mr Jacob Ochieng (Practical Action) highlighted the unprecedented impact COVID-19 is having on the economy worldwide. Practical Action is supporting agribusinesses and youth so they can remain safe by providing access and distributing information on the best practices about stopping the spread of the virus. Ochieng also underscored the importance of keeping essential agricultural services running. He mentioned that marketing and networking for agripreneurs is not possible during a lock-down, but digital platforms and social media that will help to coordinate are key when people can not physically meet to negotiate, transact or receive training. In conclusion he mentioned that innovations and the combined learnings about climate change and COVID-19 should be utilized in activities related to resilience for youth in agribusiness.
Webinar Outcomes

The discussion during the webinar revealed that young agripreneurs need empowerment in the following critical areas:

  • Mentorship – young female agripreneurs are underrepresented and this can be attributed to various challenges including socio-cultural barriers, such as access to land and lack of technical skills. Mentorship from established young male and especially female agripreneurs was seen as essential for upcoming young agripreneurs.
  • Financial Access– There is a need to offer access to capital for the youth as well as the development of youth-focused financial tools to support the establishment and sustainable operations of youth-led agribusinesses
  • Capacity building – Governments and development partners can work in partnership with established agribusinesses and with youth-centered organizations to establish centers of excellence which include demonstration sites and knowledge sharing activities for young people, including those on ICT, a field that has become vital in light of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • The discussions at the webinar made it crystal clear that when youth innovation in agribusiness is complemented with financial and non-financial support, young agripreneurs can not only survive but continue to thrive in the post-pandemic new world order.

A survey conducted with young Kenya agripreneurs by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN-FAO) shows how this pandemic is already affecting young people and their businesses. (See also: Rural youth employment and agri–food systems in Kenya: A rapid context analysis, (18 pages)

The online discussion ran for two weeks from 20th May 2020 to 5th June 2020 culminating in a one day online virtual interaction on 10th June 2020. The outcomes of the discussions will inform the future advocacy, policy, programming and fundraising work of the organizations behind this initiative, to enhance the protection of young workers and entrepreneurs in the agri-food system from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as climate shocks.

Hosted on the Climate and Agriculture Network for Africa ( CANA ) platform to discuss the following questions:

  1. As a young person engaged in agribusiness, how is COVID-19 and other climate related shocks such as the raging floods and invasion of desert locusts affecting your personal and professional life and livelihood?
  2. How are you organizing your work and resources to cope with the crisis from an economic and health perspective?
  3. How have your government and other organizations supported you to cope with these challenges?
  4. What lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic can be applied in the context of climate change? What innovative ideas have you applied or observed?

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