In a bold stride towards change, AGRA’s resolute commitment to propelling Rwanda’s youth into dignified and fulfilling work opportunities shines as a beacon of hope. The launch of AGRA’s groundbreaking five-year Rwanda Strategic Plan on August 14 marks a resounding pledge to create 132,000 meaningful job avenues for the country’s dynamic youth within its relatively short five-year span. This audacious initiative aligns seamlessly with the Rwandan government’s concerted efforts to confront the pressing issue of unemployment that has cast a shadow over its vibrant young population.
Unveiling a Transformational Journey
In 2022, Rwanda grappled with an overall unemployment rate of 20.5%, with a staggering 25.6% of its youth bearing the brunt of joblessness, amounting to at least one in every four young Rwandans being adrift without employment. AGRA’s strategy, meticulously designed to span from 2023 to 2027, propels the nation towards a brighter horizon by committing a monumental $50 million – a colossal Rwf60 billion – to catalyze change through a suite of interventions, including technical assistance and grants. This investment surges past the $20 million infused in the concluded strategy, an emphatic testament to AGRA’s resolute drive.
A Flourishing Ecosystem for Thriving Enterprises
The pulsating heart of this strategic pursuit revolves around fostering the growth of agribusiness small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that stand poised to uplift small-scale producers. AGRA’s unwavering emphasis on investing in high-value crop value chains radiates promise. The ripple effects of this targeted approach promise to generate dignified jobs, both on the farm and beyond, thus transforming lives. By nurturing a nurturing environment that nurtures youth and young women, AGRA emerges as a trailblazer in ushering prosperity where it’s needed most.
A Unified Front: Collaboration for Change
The Minister of Youth, Jean Nepo Abdallah Utumatwishima, echoes the urgency for collaborative initiatives to resuscitate a disheartening status quo, wherein over a third of Rwanda’s youth remained disengaged from employment, education, or training. Utumatwishima’s poignant words ring clear: “Our service is to ensure our youth get employment opportunities.” Agriculture and agri-food systems, the fertile ground of potential, beckon as arenas rife with possibilities. In a country where agriculture is often overlooked, AGRA’s pivotal role as a catalyst for transformation is undeniable.
Agriculture’s Grand Transformation
Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Ildephonse Musafiri, succinctly captures the prevailing perception: agriculture as a haven devoid of “decent” jobs. AGRA’s visionary strategy smashes through these misconceptions, spearheading a paradigm shift that resonates with Rwanda’s ambitious target of generating over 200,000 jobs annually. A resounding testament to unity in purpose, AGRA’s strategy dovetails seamlessly into Rwanda’s overarching vision of progress, wealth, and well-being.
A Future Blossoming: Seizing the Opportunity
The AGRA Board Chair, Hailemariam Dessalegn, pledges to address the shackles constraining Rwandan youth, particularly women, from embracing agriculture. Through partnerships with policymakers, industry stakeholders, and trained experts, AGRA envisions a modernized agricultural landscape that beckons the young workforce with enticing prospects, reshaping perceptions, and invigorating the sector with boundless energy.
Empowering SMEs for a Flourishing Tomorrow
Agnes Kalibata, AGRA President, eloquently underscores the power of thriving SMEs to be the conduits of change. These enterprises act as connective tissue, bridging the gap between small-scale farmers and burgeoning markets. A surge in demand for diversified inputs and outputs catalyzes a network of direct and indirect employment opportunities, offering a lifeline to the youth that form a staggering 70% of the population under 35.
A Vision Encompassing All
AGRA’s Rwanda Country Manager, Jean Pierre Ndagijimana, unveils a comprehensive blueprint, promising intervention across the entire country. From a robust seed system to sustainable farming practices, inclusive finance, markets and trade, and augmented government capacity, AGRA’s strategy encapsulates a holistic transformation. This strategic tapestry envisions reaching 1.5 million smallholder farmers, bolstering their resilience against climate change, and nurturing 500 agri-food SMEs, creating an ecosystem wherein private sector investment of $250 million and government backing of $500 million intertwine to forge a thriving future.
AGRA’s Rwanda Strategy stands not only as a transformative manifesto but also as a clarion call to the youth of Rwanda. It beckons them to harness the potential within the nation’s fertile soil and bountiful agri-food sector. Amidst the backdrop of the verdant hills of Rwanda, AGRA’s strategy resonates as a symphony of possibilities, a crescendo of hope, and a bridge toward prosperity for the youth of this remarkable nation. The journey has begun, and the destination is resplendent with promise.
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