In Benin, a small country in West Africa, the majority of family farms are managed by women, and produce 95% of the country’s agriculture output. While family farms substantially contribute to Benin’s economy, family farmers live in some of the poorest communities in the country.
Each year, more than 100,000 young graduates flood the labor market to compete for scarce job opportunities. Agriculture is recognized as the main sector that offers livelihoods and employment opportunities for young people. However, many young people are not attracted to the sector. They do not view agriculture as a career choice, and some even consider it an “inappropriate” activity.
To address the challenges stated above and their related issues, Youth Participation and Agriculture Development (YPA) launched a project called “Let’s Be a Farmer” in 2014, During GYSD 2014, YPA Development engaged 135 youth and assisted 20 local family farms – 13 of which were headed by women. The program will be implemented for the second time during GYSD 2015.
The project aims to enhance the social image of the Beninese farmer in order to make the agricultural sector more attractive for the youth. The main goals are to:
- support our family farmers,
- promote agricultural entrepreneurship among young Beninese, and
- empower our women in the rural areas.
GYSD activities include:
Women farmers training youth volunteers. These activities will include plowing, weeding, planning and nurturing oil palm seedlings.
A vegetable farmer at another site will train youth volunteers. Young people will learn how to plant garden beds for lettuce and tomatoes, properly water plants, clear a plot of land, and milk cows.
Young people will be trained on modern agricultural methods. They will also learn about some of the obstacles they might face if they decide to launch their own agricultural or agri-food business, such as a lack of available credit, high labor costs, and poor access to food markets to sell their produce.
After each activity, local authorities and beneficiaries recognize the service of the youth and present the young people with certificates.
With everything planned for GYSD 2015, they expect to achieve even more impact than they did last year!