Yaoundé, May 28, 2019 - On 28 May, 92 students under the AUDA-NEPAD Decent Rural Jobs project graduated in Yaoundé, Cameroon, after receiving training and mentorship in agribusiness and entrepreneurship. It was the second cohort of students to graduate under the project in Cameroon, which aims at equipping rural youths with skills to engage in entrepreneurship along agriculture and agribusiness value chains.
The project, supported by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is currently implemented in Benin, Cameroon, Malawi and Niger. In Cameroon, the participating training centres include the Practical School for Agriculture Binguela, the Rural Training Centre, Mbanga and the Multi-Purpose Regional Youth Centre in Buea.
Before the students were presented with their certificates, Mrs Estherine Fotabong, the AUDA- NEPAD Director of Programmes, expressed joy at the successful outcomes of the project in the four countries. She commended FAO for its partnership and support in improving the lives of the young men and women in the four countries. With 2019 dedicated by the African Union to strengthen action towards refugees and displaced persons in order to develop durable solutions, the project contributes to the AU objectives to bring stability amongst its youths.
Mrs Fotabong underscored the value addition of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Cameroon to the project. According to the Director, “The coordination role of the Ministry ensured increased participation of the private sector in agriculture and agribusiness activities. We need to continue to build synergies between public and private sectors for transformative growth through integrated programmatic approach”.
In congratulating the graduating students, Mrs Fotabong made reference to the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which commits African countries to remove tariffs on 90 percent of goods, progressively liberalise trade in services, and address a host of other non-tariff barriers. Accordingly, the AfCFTA will facilitate market access to the students as they embark on their rural enterprises.
The ceremony was graced by H.E Mr Gabriel Mbairobe, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Cameroon. The Minister was appreciative of the efforts and commitments of FAO and AUDA-NEPAD, to provide decent rural jobs for the Cameroonian youths. Mr Mbairobe stressed that the project on promoting Decent Rural Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship in Agriculture and Agribusiness has motivated the government to build more partnerships within the youth populace. According to the Minister, Cameroon has rolled out youth-centred projects to support the agriculture, fisheries and livestock sectors.
Other Ministers in attendance included: H.E Mr Issa Thiroma, Minister of Employment and Vocational Training; H.E Dr Taiga, Minister of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries, and; H.E Mr Mounouna Foutson, Minister of Youth and Civic Education. The success of the project is a result of the collaborative and integrated approach, which is reflected by the presence of the Ministers concerned with skills development for youth employment.
Other attendees include government officials, development partners, civil society organisations and members of the media. The event was concluded with an exhibition that showcased products manufactured by the students.