By Obinna Chima

Investing in agriculture and farming technologies will help to change the perception that young people have of farming, making it an appealing career choice that also contributes to the long-term development of rural communities.

The President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Kanayo F. Nwanze, said this when he visited Senegalese leaders recently.

With more than half of Senegal’s population under the age of 20, creating employment opportunities for youth needs to be high on the nation’s agenda; Nwanze was quoted to have said in a report.

“We need to give young people a good reason to stay in rural areas,” Nwanze said.

“Young people are Senegal’s greatest resource and are the key to the country’s prosperity. We need to channel our investments so that rural areas become vibrant, economic centres that offer attractive employment opportunities.” Nwanze said prior to his visit.

While agriculture remains the main source of employment and income for about 70 per cent of the population, most of Senegal lies within the drought-prone Sahel region, with dwindling natural resources.

Nwanze said that given these natural and climate-related challenges, it is worth noting that the government has boosted its rice production by investing in simple technologies that farmers can use to manage water resources and improve seed varieties.

“IFAD will continue supporting the government strategy for long-term agricultural investments that benefit rural women and men, including young people. This will lead to greater productivity and higher incomes which, in turn, will ensure future food security for the entire country.”

IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, it stated that IFAD had provided about $17.7 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached some 459 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialised United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub.