INVESTING in rural areas and agriculture is crucial to achieve prosperity in Africa and to guarantee the continent’s young people an alternative to migration, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization says.
Director-General José Graziano da Silva says the aim has to be to create opportunities for young people to remain in rural areas.
“We need youth for modern agriculture,” he said.
Speaking at an EU-African Alliance in Agriculture event in Berlin, da Silva said almost half of Africa’s population remains extremely poor and food insecure.
“Fostering the creation of decent jobs in rural areas, and not only in the agricultural sector, but in other areas and sectors, could help rural populations remain in their homelands,” he said.
Most of the young migrants come from the rural areas, da Silva said, but young people are essential to achieve a modern and dynamic agricultural sector in Africa, which is vital to fight hunger and poverty, and address the impacts of climate change, he said.
FAO data shows the number of international migrants increased from 153 million in 1990 to more than 250 million today, with migration from rural areas accounting for at least 50 per cent.
In sub-Saharan Africa this share can be up to 75 per cent.
Da Silva said FAO is working with partners to facilitate pro-poor investments that can enable access to new technologies, capacity development, market information, networks and social protection.