The West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF) is providing education sponsorships, technology training, and mentorship for youth in agriculture, research, and entrepreneurship. CORAF’s programs for youth prepare for the quickly aging population of researchers in agriculture.
In West Africa, 63 percent of the population is under 25 years old. According to CORAF, this group also makes up 60 percent of the total unemployed. Yet CORAF sees youth unemployment as a great opportunity for agriculture, especially if youth feel empowered to become the engine for economic development. “We have a lot of youth with no access to jobs,” says Dr. Nieyidoube Lamien, Program Officer for CORAF’s West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP). “We found that agriculture is one of the sectors that can really accept them.”
WAAPP has three main programs to make youth a productive force in building a better agricultural future. The initiative’s capacity building program began in 2008, supporting young scientists attaining their Masters or PhDs in agricultural sectors relating to the WAAPP’s areas of research. Under this program, each WAAPP national research center sponsors young scientists and their projects with prestigious scholarships. Ultimately, the program aims to encourage young scientists to take the places of a large number of researchers in the agricultural sector close to retirement—currently, the average age of researchers is 55 years old and rising. WAAPP has trained 1,021 young scientists to close this predicted gap and contribute to the national research centers in the future. Read more