• Thursday, April 18, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Heifer urges enhanced support for youth-led innovations in agric sector

Heifer urges enhanced support for youth-led innovations in agric sector

Heifer International, a leading global non-profit organisation working to end hunger and poverty in low- and middle-income nations, has urged stakeholders in Africa’s agriculture sector to enhance their support for youth-driven innovations and technology adoption.

The organisation, which also prioritises environmental sustainability, urged the stakeholders to support the establishment of strategic partnerships, explaining that these initiatives aim to bolster smallholder farmers and communities, ultimately raising incomes and catalysing transformation in the continent’s food systems.

Heifer made this call at this year’s Africa Food Systems Forum where it hosted side events, and networking forums, and participated in several panels that centred discussions around transformative solutions for Africa’s agriculture.

The forum, which took place between September 4-8 in Dar es Salaam, is Africa’s leading venue for agriculture stakeholders to come together and agree on practical actions to transform food systems and end hunger.

“More than 3000 attendees from over 70 countries attended this year’s summit, where more than 350 experts and policymakers engaged stakeholders on ways that Africa can build back better food systems and strengthen the continent’s food sovereignty with youth and women at the centre,” Adesuwa Ifedi, senior vice president, Africa Programmes, Heifer International, noted.

She disclosed that Heifer had been working with farmers and communities in Africa for nearly 50 years to help them build sustainable and resilient food systems that can withstand shocks and stresses, pointing out that part of the organisation’s work in the continent was innovative investments in young Africans.

Read also: Heifer International boosts smallholder farmers with N100m insurance payout

These young Africans, he said, were working on transformative solutions and products within the agriculture ecosystem that have strengthened smallholder farmers’ outputs, increasing women’s participation in agribusinesses, and enhancing climate-smart practices.

Speaking to global stakeholders at the event, Ifedi said, “Our profound experience of partnering with smallholder farmers and communities has provided us with a unique perspective – one that harnesses the innovation and energy of young innovators, alongside the limitless potential of technology.

This is to craft scalable and enduring agrotech solutions tailored to the unique needs of small-holder farmers. The impact of these have been transformative – driving heightened productivity amplified incomes for farmers, job creation, unlocking commercial capital fostering agripreneurs, and elevating the capabilities of our food systems.”

According to her, concerted efforts need to be made to boost Africa’s food systems urgently to be able to accommodate the continent’s forecast population of 2.5 billion people by 2050.

Read also: Heifer International unveils crop insurance to Nigerian farmers

The good news, she said, was that in the face of this challenge, Africans are endowed with two critical tools – the youth and technology, adding, “Africa possesses the youngest population globally, with nearly 40 percent of the continent’s population aged 15 or below, as of 2022.

“In sub-Saharan Africa alone, an estimated 500 million people will be under 25 years old by 2050. Within these massive numbers, we see a reservoir of energy, ingenuity, and determination being leveraged to solve societal problems across the continent,” she said.

Heifer also advocated for increased innovative capital for young innovators working on transformative solutions for the agriculture ecosystem. “Through various initiatives, we have provided innovative capital to young professionals developing and deploying tech innovations that are enhancing smart farming and food production across the continent. The impact of the various programmes we have partnered with these young innovators on is heartwarming and encourages us to do more,” said Tewodros Ayele, Country Director Ethiopia, Heifer International.

Read also: Heifer Africa launches Agriculture Youth and Technology (AYuTe) challenge

Ayele spoke during the organisation’s side event at the summit on September 4 which had youth innovators, policymakers, experts in finance and technology, and other stakeholders in attendance.

He identified one of such initiatives as the AYuTe Africa Challenge, one of the most ambitious agriculture competitions on the continent which empowers and supports young professionals who are developing and deploying tech innovations that are reimagining farming and food production across the continent.