By Adebiyi Adedapo in Abuja

The President of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Mr. Kanayo Nwanze has recommended investment in rural infrastructure to stem youth exodus from rural to urban areas in Africa.

Nwanze made the recommendation in Abuja, at the 9th IFAD Annual Regional Workshop titled “investing in rural youths; how do we plant the seed for the future.”

The workshop which draws participants from across West and Central Africa is aimed at re awakening the consciousness of all stakeholder ‎ to the role of youth in agriculture to the future of Africa.

Nwanze said investing in rural areas was necessary because it would ensure gainful employment for rural dwellers and improve standard of living of majority of the citizens.

“If we want young the people to stay and work in rural areas, there is a need to be considerable investment in infrastructure. This includes investment in processing plants, electricity, warehouses, roads and ports. Doing this can reduce post-harvest waste and improve access to markets,” he said.

He added that Africa could create a world where young people have something to gain, instead of a world where they have nothing to lose; a world where young people take up the tools for production, not arms for destruction.

Meanwhile, President Mohammadu Buhari at the workshop hailed IFAD and other development partners, saying they had over the years joined efforts with government to transform rural economy.

The President who was represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Buhari said in line with the theme of the workshop, the country was conscious of the fact that the youths were the future.

“There is both the sense of urgency and compulsion on our part to ensure that our youths are the new guardians of our initiative to take agriculture to the next place of pride, of competition status with other countries that have modernize their agricultural practice and transformed their value chains”, he said

Buhari said it was compelling to bear in mind that the aging farmers needed to be replaced with new generation favourably disposed to innovation and risk taking.

He stressed that the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP) will be implemented with great intensity and commitment.

“Our programme, Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP) geared towards developing a new cadre of over 740 thousand market oriented young agricultural producers in rural area will be implemented with great intensity and commitment. We anticipate about 20 thousand school leavers and rural youth leaders will be empowered in the 36 states of the federation and the FCT”, he concluded.