Young people in the Southern Africa Region have called upon governments to support them financially and technically in order to contribute towards resilient and sustainable food systems.
Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Passion Poultry, Evangelista Chekera, made the call during the United Nations (UN) Food Systems High Level Side event.
The side event was held under the theme: “Delivering on the African Agenda in Building Resilient Food Systems” and was organised by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and AGRF ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit.
“Youth have limited access to financial opportunities, and sometimes the programs that are designed for youth do not involve us.
As a young agri-preneur, I believe that governments and the private sector need to come up with relevant measures to ensure we build sustainable and resilient food systems on the continent. They need to invest in the three Es: Education, Experience and Exposure,” Chekera explained.
Chekera highlighted that African youth struggle when it comes to accessing financing, the process is cumbersome, she therefore called upon governments to create an enabling environment for youth with innovations to access finances.
“African youth know their problems, they have solutions, but they lack support to implement their innovations and end up pulling down their innovations or creating half-baked products” Chekera said.
She further proposed that African governments establish local youth innovation hubs starting from secondary school where youth can have the opportunity to develop their innovations.
Chekera founded Passion Poultry in 2016, a company that designs, manufactures, and distributes innovative poultry equipment for small scale poultry producers. To date, she has designed a chick brooding device whose aim is to reduce chick mortality rate by 95% by mimicking the mother hen. She has also designed a poultry slaughtering device that eases the process of slaughtering chicken.
In a separate interview with Ngabaghila Chatata, founder and Managing Director of Thanthwe Farms, said young people need both financial and technical support to contribute towards transforming Africa’s food systems.
“There is need to create local youth hubs at district level to mentor young people from a tender age in agri-preneurs so that they can become the solution to the challenges being faced in their local communities”, Chatata said.
Also speaking during the high-level side-event, the former prime minister of Ethiopia and the chair of the AGRA board, H.E. Hailemariam Dessalegn, said African governments are still lagging behind in terms of meeting the sustainable development goals related to hunger, food, and nutrition.
“COVID-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerability of the food systems to external shocks and eroded the gains that were made in the previous years, but we should not lose hope because we have identified the challenges and come up with key actions that will help us to deliver resilient sustainable food systems,” Dessalegn concluded.
During the AGRF 2021 Summit, the Southern African Development community came up with priority actions that would guide in ending hunger and reducing poverty and improving nutrition by 2030.
Among these actions were: to strengthen food systems and value chains through the use of improved farm inputs, improved access to finance and the introducing of farmer friendly financing and tax measures to allow farmers to get into agro processing as well as promotion of agribusiness for all gender and fight gender discrimination.
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