The agriculture sector is dominated by many smallholder farmers usually youths with technical skills but lacking capital to finance production as the sector is capital intensive. In Zimbabwe, two-thirds of the country’s population live in rural areas and two-thirds of the population are below the age of 25 years. The Government of Zimbabwe, South Korea and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) joined hands to drive and strengthen the green jobs agenda for rural youth employment in the agriculture sector in the country.
“Green jobs in agriculture have the ability to support the country’s economy, provide meaningful livelihoods to the young and old, support increased food security and nutrition as well as transform our agrifood systems into inclusive sustainable practices that can both mitigate and adapt to climate change. The project is enabling young people to have a second look at agriculture as a viable livelihood option that can also support sustainable environmental practices,” said Patrice Talla, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa and Representative to Zimbabwe.
Launched in 2020, the four-year Green Jobs for Rural Youth Employment (GJ4RYE) project is funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and implemented by FAO in Sierra Leone, Timor Leste and Zimbabwe. The project is providing soft skills training, agrifood sector-specific training, and up to two years of waged employment opportunities, entrepreneurial grants and mentorship support to selected rural youth in the three countries. In Zimbabwe, the project is implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development (MoLAFWRD) to provide decent, green jobs opportunities to disadvantaged youth in rural areas of five provinces in the country.
With one year remaining on the project lifespan, project stakeholders organized a tour for high level delegates including the Ambassador of South Korea to Zimbabwe, the Deputy Minister of MoLAFWRD, the FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa, KOICA Director, Korea Programme on International Agriculture Director, senior Government officials and development partners in the Mashonaland East province to demonstrate GJ4RYE project achievements including sharing challenges to better inform sustainable implementation of the project as it enters its final phase.
“I am happy to have an interface with young agri-entrepreneurs, delegates from South Korea and all actors in the agricultural value chain working with youth in agriculture. The Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy aims to make Zimbabwe food secure and create employment opportunities for the youth in the country and this resonates well with the Government’s National Development Strategy 1 and the green economy agenda,” said Honourable Vangelis Haritatos, Deputy Minister of Agriculture.
The GJ4RYE project is anchored on three components that is, capacity building, providing green jobs opportunities and evidence based policy support to government. The flagship accelerators of the project include participatory involvement, development and implementation of home grown initiatives while empowering young people to be more aware of their environment and choose employment opportunities that can support their families and empower them to be responsible decision makers.
His Excellency Ambassador Bong-Kae Do affirmed the Korean Government’s commitment and partnership with Zimbabwe in agrifood systems transformation.
“Agriculture and Rural Development is one of the five priority sectors of Korea’s international development cooperation programme. Under the socio-economic instability and decline of agro-forestry products derived from climate change, it makes difficulties in securing enough food and money for livelihoods in the rural regions of developing countries. Based on this perception, KOICA has invested in agricultural and rural development as well as the conservation of natural resources and ecosystem against climate change through Agriculture and Rural Development Mid-Term Strategy (2021 – 2025),” said Ambassador Do.
At the end the tour, stakeholders were presented with progress made since project launch, while acknowledging the challenges on the ground and how the country and development partners can avert them. The project has set in place sustainability pathways including building capacity of business development service providers; supporting young entrepreneurs to identify and develop other local youths through mentorship in other upcoming businesses.
The tour was concluded with the project committing to implement mentoring processes around ‘greening businesses’ management and group dynamics; enhanced production skills and access to markets and risk management for longevity and sustainability of their livelihoods after the project.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.