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Youth in Agribusiness: Coping with COVID-19 in the context of a changing climate

Photo: Janie Airey / Getty Images.

We invite you to contribute to the discussion on how to protect and support young workers and entrepreneurs in the agri-food system under the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

Disruptions in agricultural value chains and markets caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are severely affecting rural livelihoods, especially of the self-employed and wage workers. Due to lockdowns and movement restrictions smallholder farmers and agribusinesses especially youth-run enterprises are unable to sell their produce or access inputs, while seasonal and migrant workers are no longer generating income and need to return to their areas of origin, with ripple effects on their households. At the same time, countries in Africa are currently dealing with climate shocks such as raging floods, conflict, acute food insecurity and hunger threat from the invasion of desert locusts.

Young rural people are among the most vulnerable groups, already facing higher rates of unemployment and underemployment, and overrepresented in the informal economy (40 percent more likely than adults to be in casual work arrangements). Most earn their income on a daily or weekly basis and have little or no access to health insurance or social security. Rural youth are at high risk to disproportionately suffer both from the pandemic and its aftermath. A survey conducted with young Kenya agripreneurs by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN-FAO) shows how this pandemic is already affecting young people and their businesses.

In addition, climate-related catastrophes such as floods and the desert locust invasion have compounded the problems facing the most vulnerable populations especially the rural youth. We need to make sure rural youth are included in the response to these crises. It is not all doom and gloom as it is emerging that several young people are implementing innovative ideas to address the current food availability crisis using various digital platforms.

It is against this background that the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), IFDC-2SCALE, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN-FAO), AgriProFocus, the Climate-Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN) and the Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative (SIANI) are hosting an online discussion on the Climate and Agriculture Network for Africa ( CANA) platform to discuss the following questions:

1. As a young person engaged in agribusiness, how is COVID-19 and other climate-related shocks such as the raging floods and invasion of desert locusts affecting your personal and professional life and livelihood?
2. How are you organizing your work and resources to cope with the crisis from an economic and health perspective?
3. How have your government and other organizations supported you to cope with these challenges?
4. What lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic can be applied in the context of climate change? What innovative ideas have you applied or observed?
5. What kind of support would you need to face this pandemic and other climate-related challenges?

The online discussion will run from May 20, 2020 to June 5, 2020, culminating in a one-day online interaction on June 10, 2020.

The outcomes of the discussions will inform the future advocacy, policy, programming and fundraising work of the organizations behind this initiative, to enhance the protection of young workers and entrepreneurs in the agri-food system from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as climate shocks.

Provide your response and feedback

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