The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO has estimated that Africa will need about 12 million new jobs annually to address its unemployment crisis.
FAO Director-General José da Silva disclosed this recently that an estimate of 12 million new jobs would have to be created every year to absorb new labour market entrants over the next 20 years.
He further said agriculture would continue to generate employment in Africa over the coming decades, at a regional conference on employment being held from Feb. 19 to 23 in Khartoum.
“Countries need to promote a rural and structural transformation that fosters synergies between farm and non-farm activities and that reinforces” the linkages between rural areas and cities, da Silva said.
He said businesses around farming, including processing, packaging, transportation, distribution, marketing and financial services, could also create jobs for young people, especially those in rural areas.
FAO Regional Conference for Africa primarily focused on the theme of creating decent and attractive employment in the world’s “youngest” continent in terms of the average age of its population.
The UN food agency said currently, some 54 per cent of Africa’s work force relied on the agricultural sector for livelihoods, income and employment, especially in family farming.
FAO said with more people moving to cities, demand on urban food markets would grow, which in turn can generate job opportunities in all agriculture-related activities.
FAO said it believed, however, that more must be done to create non-agricultural employment in rural areas, including agro-tourism and other services.
“More than ever, strategic partnerships are needed to bring together the African Union, the African Development Bank and the UN system and other development partners,” da Silva said.
He warned, however, that more profitable urban markets could lead to a concentration of food production in large commercial farms, and also the creation of value chains dominated by large processors and retailers.