The Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, has said that agribusiness can curb unemployment among youth and to attract more young people to the sector, the ‘Farming is Cool Rwanda’ project was launched last week that is set to empower Rwanda’s youth through a agribusiness.
Farming is Cool Rwanda is aimed at changing the mindset of youth regarding agribusiness and making available modern technologies, knowledge, financing and markets to them.
“Farming is for everyone, graduates or non-graduates, and when they embrace initiative, they will get good seeds, modern technology, financing which will solve the challenges of dependence and unemployment,” Nsengimana said.
He explained that there are 4.4 million in the country, 80% of them in rural areas, and 65% underemployed.
“Underemployed youth are either involved in underproductive activities that have very little outcome or they work less than 25 hours per week,” Nsengimana explained. “When the Farming is Cool initiative scales up, it has the potential to solve unemployment and underemployment among youth, which will help achieve double-digit economic growth as envisaged by the government.”
Gilad Millo, the head of business development and public relations at Balton CP, an agribusiness company and consultant which is one of the organizers of Farming is Cool, affirmed that the initiative is targeting to bring experience, professionalism and modern technology to agriculture to generate exporters and contribute to food security.
“When youth get involved in agribusiness they will make their own money and help their families with school fees. If farmers are offered financing, technology, knowledge and experience, the quality of the produce will improve,” Millo said.
Milo said the Farming is Cool initiative has already been tried for five years in Kenya, and Rwanda is the second country.
According to Tony Nsanganira, the State Minister for Agriculture, youth should embrace agriculture as it is the backbone of the economy and essential in reducing poverty.
“We spend a lot of money on importing food like tomatoes and mushrooms, so let us use this opportunity and produce it locally,” Nsanganira said.
Farming is Cool, which will also involve a school competition aimed to mobilizing youth to be more involved in agriculture, is a joint initiative of Minagri, Balton CP Rwanda, the Private Sector Federation, MYICT and Mineduc.
Innocent Bulindi, the CEO of the Business Development Fund (BDF), said youth need to elaborate standard business plans to determine how much money they will need to borrow for their project. He added that BDF provides 75 % of the collateral, and advised youth to work together to be able to raise the remaining 25%.