Focus on youth and agriculture

Food security: Youth empowerment is on the agenda at an economic development conference under way in the province. Youth empowerment and food security on the African continent are at the centre of discussions at the economic development conference under way at Alexandria in the Eastern Cape

Delegates from across Africa are discussing ways to expedite economic development.

It’s a Co-Willing initiative, a Swiss-based organisation that seeks to encourage sustainable development.

The conference seeks to address issues pertaining to the energy crisis, agriculture and food security, waste management and skills training through an integrated sustainable development plan.Countries like Kenya, South Sudan, Switzerland, Tanzania and Mali have formed part of this initiative.

Rommel Roberts, Co-Willing’s executive South African representative, says an action plan will be established by the end of the conference.

“We’ve targeted direct practical projects like waste management, which is a nightmare in the country and elsewhere in the world. Also skills training using the Swiss model of vocational training as promoted by the Swiss embassy, Agri-development in terms of food security and importantly, energy.

“We’ve got the solutions. We’ve formulated them and we’ve got investors on board, so that immediately after the conference, we’ll be going to see institutions,” Roberts said.

Youth empowerment has also been highlighted as a target area in ensuring the sustainability of the continent’s economy. This includes skills exchange, job creation and resources regeneration and optimisation. President of Co-Willing Susi Gubler says this is possible through integrated development platforms.

“The main goal of the Swiss engagement is that the only resource we have in Switzerland are skills. So, what we can collaborate on is skills transfer, technology transfer and the Swiss embassy here in South Africa is strongly backing anything that has to do with vocational training,” Gubler said. A Kenyan representative, Patrick Kisia, says this initiative will also attract the youth towards some of the least popular areas of skills acquisition, such as agriculture.

“We want to run a training programme, with the hope that with the partnership, we are eventually going to have food sustainability and that the young people, particularly, will have an interest in agriculture. Because we realise that we have more young people that are running away from agriculture and with the training, we are likely to have more interest in this area,” Kisia said.

Millions of rands have been injected into various development projects across Africa. This is aimed at assisting underdeveloped and developing countries find solutions to environmental and sustainable development issues. – SABCnews

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