The youth of 24 African countries have spoken, and they’re shouting for a change in our farming game! They all gathered in Kenya for the Africa Youth Summit on Food Systems, and boy, did they make some noise. These young leaders, part of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty Africa (AFSA), are fired up and ready to champion agroecology and sustainable food production practices across the continent.

Now, these youngsters make up more than 60 percent of Africa’s population, so you know they mean business. Joyce Brown, the coordinator of AFSA’s Youth Platform, spoke on behalf of the youth and made it crystal clear that agroecology is the way to go. It’s all about building a regenerative and inclusive food system that respects our cultural heritage and preserves our unique African identity. Brown didn’t mince words when she said, “Hey, governments, it’s time to support this transition to agroecology! We’re facing global challenges, and agroecology is the answer, especially when it comes to food security in Africa.”

The youth are fully on board with agroecology because they see its sustainable farming practices in action. They’re all about preserving and protecting our ecosystems, unlike industrial agriculture, which has a bad rap for messing things up. Brown highlighted how they’re getting their hands dirty with soil management practices, like making organic fertilizers instead of relying on harmful chemicals that wreck our soil. And hey, they’re all about conserving biodiversity too. They’re even rocking the agro-ecological entrepreneurship boat to show everyone that these approaches are viable and awesome.

But these young farmers want more than just talk. They’re demanding governments to put policies in place that protect land rights, especially for marginalized groups and women. They want resources distributed equally to support their entrepreneurial endeavors. And hey, how about some financial assistance, like grants and subsidies, to help them invest in sustainable agriculture and innovative technologies? That would be a game-changer, folks!

Education is also high on their priority list. They want sustainable farming practices, climate change adaptation, and seed management and conservation to be taught in schools. Vocational training centers should pop up everywhere, catering to young folks who want to dive into agriculture. By empowering the next generation of farmers, we can pave the way for a resilient and sustainable future.

And guess what? These young leaders want a seat at the table! They’re demanding to be heard when it comes to shaping agricultural policies, tackling climate change, and revamping food systems. They know their voices matter, and they want a say in the decisions that affect all of us.

Dr. Billion Belay, the General Coordinator at AFSA, dropped some more exciting news. They’re establishing a youth wing focused on promoting agroecology. These youth leaders from 24 African countries are currently huddling together, discussing the role of youth in agriculture and the kind of farming we need for sustainable development. And get ready for next year because they’re planning the biggest youth convention Africa has ever seen! Over 1,000 young individuals will gather to talk about the future of African agriculture. That’s one powerful gathering, my friends!

Dr. Belay also shed light on another pressing issue. African nations are relying too much on importing and exporting food, which leads to a hefty debt burden. We’ve made commitments to invest in agriculture, but financial limitations are holding us back. Dr. Belay suggested an African levy on food policies, both at the national and continental levels, to encourage countries to prioritize domestic food production and trade within the region. It’s time to break free from this debt cycle, people!

Let’s hear from one of the inspiring young individuals at the summit, Warda Mohammed. This environmental champion from Kisumu shared her experience of nurturing young children through kitchen gardens made from recycled materials. She’s all about reconnecting with our cultural heritage and traditional food practices. Warda wants us to ditch the Western foods and rely more on agroecology. After all, the future belongs to us, and if we neglect our soils today, we’re putting our ecosystems in jeopardy. Processed food? No, thank you! Let’s take care of our well-being, my friends.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) knows a good thing when they see it. They acknowledge the remarkable progress young people have made in raising awareness about climate issues worldwide. They recognize that the youth are essential in driving positive changes in our agrifood systems. These young folks are determined to establish a new system that tackles our modern challenges and ensures that everyone has enough to eat. They’re the key to shaping a sustainable future, and we’re lucky to have them on board!

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