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Walking the talk towards youth engagement in agricultural programs in Africa

Msekiwa, YPARD Malawi representativeIt is yet another opportunity to bring youth voice and lobby for wide engagement in African programs. This time, the opportunity consists of having being nominated as a board member to represent the youth in the African Agribusiness Incubator Network (AAIN).

AAIN is an independently driven action network for Incubating incubators through advancing entrepreneurship, networking, science and technologies for job and wealth creation in Africa. It provides a platform for bringing together incubator leaders, managers, business mentors, state and non-state actors to engage globally with other incubators and organizations in advocating for a strong agribusiness policy and sharing agribusiness technology and experiences.

AAIN was initiated by six Universities, Business and Research in Agricultural INnovation (UniBRAIN) - Agribusiness Innovation Incubator Consortia (AIICs) partners along with the Food Processing Business Incubators of the Government of India and Representatives of other African nations in 2004.

As a young person in AAIN, my major role is to ensure that programs for young people are incorporated during the program-design and implementation stages. Thus my responsibility in AAIN is to ensure visibility and integration of already existing youth led programs and ensure there are more opportunities for youth mentorship and capacity building in agribusiness.

I would like to see more capacity building of young people as I feel this is the only sure way for them to effectively contribute and take the lead in various areas, from food production to feeding Africa, agri-based wealth creation and employment.

In an effort to make use of each and every opportunity for youth engagement, it was quickly proposed that youth led agribusinesses would be showcased in the first African Agribusiness Conference to take place in Nairobi in September 2015. All this thanks to the open minded and action oriented organisers and board members who embraced the idea for implementation.

Youth led agribusinesses have been set for being showcased during the official opening session of the conclave, which will be graced by high level dignitaries including policy makers from various African countries and leading Agribusiness enterprises executives. This is a great networking and learning opportunity for young people as the event will have both African and global agribusiness incubators through AAINs affiliation to the Global Agribusiness Incubator (GABI) Network promoted by the Agribusiness incubation program of ICRISAT.

To my young fellow, it is time that we hunt and make use of such opportunities, even if that means working as a volunteer. These are learning, networking and visibility opportunities. It is also key to learn how to nurture the development of the new networks to go beyond handshakes and the exchange of business cards.

To other boards in Africa and across the globe: the early engagement and capacity building of the youth is the true and sure way for innovative and sustainable development! AAIN is walking the talk!