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Key potential agribusiness value chains for youth employment

Many young people know little of the opportunities and dynamism possible in farming today, a reason why majority of them are not attracted to the sector. Informed by the above fact, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has placed the issue of rural youth employment through agriculture and agribusiness at the epicenter of its interventions. Thus, IFAD together with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) are funding a 5-year project (2020-2024) dubbed “Rural Youth Employment Support (R-YES)” implemented in Rwanda by a consortium of partners led by Kilimo Trust. Other members of the consortium include Rwanda Polytechnic (with its affiliated satellite training institutions – IPRCs as centers for capacity building), and Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum (RYAF). The goal of R-YES project is to contribute to sustainable employment (self and decent wage) and income generating opportunities for 1,200 youth in agriculture related activities in Rwanda through an integrated agribusiness hub.

To guide project implementation, it was important to undertake rapid value chain scoping study to identify and select strategic value chains that have the greatest potential to attract and provide meaningful/decent employment (self and wage) to youth in agribusiness through enterprise development and job creation. 

“When we started the implementation of R-YES, many value chains were identified to be potential to create jobs for youth in agribusiness, but we had to narrow them down and work with the most feasible that could create more impact for the youth. At first, 14 value chains were prioritized by the youth. These were then objectively assessed against 12 indicators (agroecological suitability of the value chain, demand size, proportion of youth considering the value chain as a priority, required initial capital investment at production level, production node profitability at minimum scale of production, level of value chain commercialization, job creation potential, proportion of female youth considering the value chain as their priority, duration to reach first sale, susceptibility to risks, minimum land requirement to be profitable, and water of productivity with optimum commodity yields).

At the end, 7 value chains i.e., Diary, Piggery, Poultry, Maize, Rice, Potatoes, and Vegetables (green pepper, carrots, cabbages, onions, tomatoes, French beans, and chilli) have been selected to be the target R-YES value chains, said Eddy Frank Rugamba, the Value Chain Specialist, R-YES Project. 

Vegetables were grouped because there is no technological difference in their production techniques thus opening this category to more than one crop that provides more opportunities for youth. 

After selection of the value chains of interests, a youth led labor market assessment study was conducted to identify potential employment opportunities for youth in selected value chains. The results of the study showed that 31 employment opportunities present the highest potential to create jobs for youth in agribusiness.

Identified employment opportunities

Further, a Gross Margin and Profitability Analysis Study was conducted to assess the profitability of the different identified employment opportunities suitable for the youth. Using case studies, required capital investment, running costs, gross margins, and net profit of the different employment opportunities were calculated. In addition, the assessment categorized the employment opportunities for the youth by gender (suitable for males and/or females).

From the identified youth employment opportunities, ten (10) short courses/trades have been designed and allocated technical training centers/IPRCs as follows:

To complement the in-college training, R-YES project will partner with agribusiness companies to offer short vocational trainings through internships and apprenticeship/work-based learning to increase employability of youth in agribusiness. R-YES interventions are aimed at creating new opportunities for youth in agribusiness as wage earners or commercial providers of services.

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