Board chair of development organisation AGRA and former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn says African governments must prioritize the creation of an enabling regulatory environment that supports youth participation in agricultural entrepreneurship.
He says steps must be taken to safeguard the rights of young farmers and facilitate land registration so they can appropriately venture into agricultural production.
Speaking at a session themed “Connection to Territories: Youth and Land Rights” at the ongoing United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP28) in Dubai, he called for increased investments in the youth of Africa.
“We need to accelerate access to youth land rights, create decent jobs, foster entrepreneurship, and establish sustainable production systems in Africa. This is not just a matter of ownership; it is an investment in the potential of an entire generation, a catalyst for economic growth, and a testament to our commitment to building a prosperous Africa for all,” he said.
He announced that AGRA will work with the African Union Commission and Regional Economic Communities on the harmonization and adoption of the frameworks, and strengthening of the youth and women protocols to ensure they are progressive and inclusive to youth needs.
“We are committing to supporting continental policies and frameworks as well as mandated institutions continentally. Policy reforms are paramount and we must advocate for and implement policies that prioritize and protect youth land rights, ensuring equitable access and ownership,” he said.
The session brought together several stakeholders at the COP to deliberate on the connection between youth, land rights, and territories. Mr. Dessalegn said it is no secret that the journey for African youth towards securing land rights and meaningful employment is filled with a complex array of obstacles. They include inequitable land tenure practices disproportionally favour elders, men, and elites, systematically excluding and marginalizing the youth, particularly young women. “The absence of robust land rental and sales markets limits opportunities for youth engagement in both formal and informal land transactions,” he said.
“We are committing to supporting continental policies and frameworks as well as mandated institutions continentally. Policy reforms are paramount and we must advocate for and implement policies that prioritize and protect youth land rights, ensuring equitable access and ownership,” the former Ethiopian Prime Minister added.