African countries need its young people to modernise the agricultural sectors, according to FAO director-general José Graziano da Silva
“It is crucial that African countries also look at rural areas for agro-industrialisation that can provide more opportunities for young people to find employment and remain in small villages and rural areas,” Graziano da Silva said, pointing to a recent FAO report showing that those who migrate from rural to urban areas are five times more likely to move abroad.
He made the remarks at the Italy-Africa Ministerial Conference in Rome, which includes foreign ministers and other officials from more than 45 African Countries, as well as representatives from the African Union, other international organisations, and the private sector.
The FAO Director-General held bilateral meetings with foreign affairs ministers from Angola, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Somalia and Sudan and was also expected to meet their counterparts from Mozambique, Cabo Verde and South Sudan.
He stressed that in this context, it is important for countries to define joint strategies and implement common actions, such as the recently approved African Continental Free Trade Area. In particular, agro-industrialisation can contribute to addressing Africa's historical dependency on food imports, da Silva added.
Investing in infrastructure
“Small villages should be the place where farmers buy seeds, send their children to school, and turn to medical care and other services when necessary. In Africa, it is very important to revitalize small villages through small agro-industries and cooperatives of family farmers,” he noted.
More investment in infrastructure is also important to connect producers, processors and other segments of the food value chains. This includes roads, transportation, storage capacity, energy, as well as water management. These measures are crucial to creating job opportunities not only in agriculture production but especially in various non-farm activities, such as services provision in general and rural tourism, the FAO Director-General stressed.
The private sector, a crucial partner
The private sector, Graziano da Silva added, is a crucial partner, particularly in building the necessary infrastructure for economic growth and development. He underscored that FAO has established more than 150 strategic partnerships with non-state actors, 50 per cent of which are with private sector companies.