Ghanaian youth entrepreneur and deputy CEO of Achievers Foods Millicent Adoboe has challenged African governments to create an enabling environment for youth-led agribusinesses to flourish.
Speaking at the parliamentarians and policymakers forum at the just-ended Africa Food Systems Summit in Dar es Salam in Tanzania, Mrs. Adoboe expressed concern Africa is still a net importer of food despite having vast agricultural resources. “We spend over $50 billion annually on food imports. But the future is calling, and we the youth are answering with unwavering resolve,” she said.
“In every corner of Africa, we are the heartbeat of innovation and progress as we envision a world where youth inclusion is a priority in policymaking. We see inclusion not just as a mere word but key factor in unlocking the potential of the food systems within Africa,” she added.
Mrs. Adoboe urged African parliamentarians and policymakers to support inclusive financial solutions that meet the specific needs of marginalized youth, women, and the disabled. “This would empower us to bring our ideas into impactful ventures,” she said.
She noted that access to market information and trade information is also needed “for us to be able to find buyers and take advantage of the free continental trade agreement.” In addition, access to technologies and especially making these technologies inclusive to bridge the gender gap is necessary, “so that we can turn our ideas into fruitful venturers and strengthen the food system.”
The entrepreneur is also advocating for policies that promote environmentally friendly farming methods and eco-friendly packaging solutions to help safeguard the planet for generations to come. “We the youth can lead the charge in climate-smart agriculture and eco-friendly innovative solutions because we are the torchbearers of sustainability,” she said.
She observed the youth have the potential to contribute to transforming Africa’s food systems but have been challenged by a number of bottlenecks. “We do not have adequate markets and trade information to enable us to find buyers for our farm produce, our finished products, and especially export to other sub-Saharan African countries where malnutrition and hunger are prevalent,” she said. “It is much easier to ship our products to the United States of America than exporting to Africa,” she said.
Millicent Adoboe is a 2020 finalist of the AGRA-initiated GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize Competition and proceeded to win the Impact Award for the transformation of rural women’s livelihoods while improving nutritional security. She has since been on a crusade to empower other youth agribusiness champions.
She says the youth should be at the policy table where governments make key decisions. “We are diverse, we have unique experiences and insightful backgrounds and when we are included in the policy-making dialogues, we make policies attractive and impactful,” she said.
“On behalf of youth in agriculture, we ask that we rise above the challenges cross boundaries and co-create a food system that can stand as a testament to unity progress and promotes inclusion,” Mrs. Adoboe added.
“We the are you are committed to doing our part to bring on our energies, our innovative ideas, and our tech-savvy proclivities. True partnerships, collaborations, and commitments by all stakeholders are needed.
“Africa’s rapidly growing youth population will be able to realize its potential to ensure food security, create decent jobs, and create sustainable livelihoods… The time is now to listen to our voices and embrace the power of the African youth,” she concluded.