Africa needs 12m new jobs to tackle unemployment, says FAO Chief

Jose Graziano da Silva

Nigeria and African countries need to create 12 million new jobs every year over the next 20 years to confront halt ravaging unemployment on the continent, the Director General of the United Nation Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), José Graziano da Silva has said.

He maintained that the prosperity of African countries lies in creating decent and attractive jobs for youths in the rural areas.He said although agriculture is a potential means of generating employment, he stressed the urgent need to explore other opportunities throughout the food chain to create enough jobs for youths especially those in rural areas.

He also stressed the need for countries to promote a rural and structural transformation that would foster synergies between farm and non-farm activities and reinforce the linkages between rural areas and cities.

Graziano da Silva who stated this at FAO’s Regional Conference for Africa held in Khartoum, Sudan highlighted such activities to include processing, packaging, transportation, distribution, marketing and service provision, especially financial and business services.

A statement by the National Communication Officer of FAO, David Tsokar, said currently only 54 percent of Africa’s work force relies on the agricultural sector for livelihoods, income and employment, especially in family farming.

He said: “With more people moving to cities, demand on urban food markets will grow, which in turn can generate job opportunities in all agriculture-related activities. But FAO believes that more must be done to create non-agricultural employment in rural areas, including agro-tourism and other services.”Graziano da Silva explained: “Youth Employment: enabling decent agriculture and agri-business jobs”, which goes beyond farm jobs and seeks to develop capacity and scale up successful approaches through programme formulation and partnerships.

“More than ever, strategic partnerships are needed to bring together the African Union, the African Development Bank and the UN system and other development partners.”He warned, however that more profitable urban markets can lead to a concentration of food production in large commercial farms, and also the creation of value chains dominated by large processors and retailers.

“In this contest, smallholders and family farmers need specific policies and regulations. This includes providing access to inputs, credit and technology and improving land tenure,” Graziano da Silva added, stressing how social protection programmes, including cash transfers can link public food purchase to family farmer’s production,” he added.

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