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More than 200 SFW stakeholders and partners reviewed the most appropriate options and solutions as well as opportunities for partnership development and resource mobilisation to jointly address the challenges of adapting West African youth and women to the transformation of agrifood systems.

In West Africa, several initiatives, programmes and other projects aimed at the installation or integration of young people in the agro-sylvo-pastoral and fisheries sector have been developed over the past 15 years. These experiences are numerous and often aim to respond to economic, social and civic concerns related to the issue of youth employability. Despite these initiatives, the challenges remain and the issue of youth employability is still nagging. This is why Dr Robert Guéi, FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for West Africa, launched this appeal: “Let’s make West Africa a land of opportunity for youth and women to build a better life for themselves while contributing to more productive agrifood systems.

Despite West Africa’s agricultural potential, young men and women are in a vulnerable situation and face age-specific difficulties, there is a largely untapped pool of employment opportunities that “must be tapped to invest more in the agro-sylvo-pastoral and fisheries sector and make it more competitive, and attractive to all young people, especially young rural migrants who may consider agricultural work to be arduous and unrewarding,” according to Yurdi Yasmi, Deputy Regional Representative of the FAO Regional Office for Africa in Accra.

During the three days of exchanges, the experiences of agricultural entrepreneurship of young people in West Africa and elsewhere, through testimonies of young agripreneurs on their motivation, were shared. Adapted solutions, current challenges and opportunities as well as employment prospects for young people in the agroforestry and fisheries sector in West African countries were discussed.

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The MDT14 was an appropriate framework for exchanges between the FAO Subregional Office for West Africa and the FAO Country Offices in the sub-region, on the one hand, and between FAO, governments, sub-regional economic communities and specialized institutions, civil society and the private sector, on the other.

Success stories and best practices in Senegal were shared by Dr El Hadji Malick Sarr, Director General of the National Agency for Agricultural Integration and Development (ANIDA) on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture, Senegal now has experiences oriented towards the creation of real entrepreneurs in the main links of the agri-food value chains or the promotion of support services in rural areas through the achievements of ANIDA and the National Agency for the Promotion of Youth Employment (ANPEJ). These experiences are based on a combination of tools including: support funds, incubators for private initiative and public services, facilitation of access to productive resources, facilitation of market access.

The achievements at subregional and country levels in 2022 as well as the actions planned for the year 2023 were presented during panel discussions as well as specific activities on youth employment in agriculture.

Through the MDT14, West Africa is firmly committed, with the support of FAO, to making youth entrepreneurship a reality by helping to create favourable conditions to facilitate the exchange of experiences and sensitize decision makers to invest more in youth entrepreneurship.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.