MSME Highlights Liberian Youth Participation in Agriculture

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This year’s 2nd Micro Small Medium Enterprise (MSME) Conference highlights the importance of the youth’s participation in agriculture for employment opportunities.

The conference was held at the Monrovia City Hall from Tuesday, April 29-30, bringing together over 500 participants in the business sector of Liberia. It spotlights agriculture and agri-business experiences in Liberia.

Agriculture is essential to the development of Liberia as it is a very big industry with the potential to provide jobs for the vast majority of the youthful Liberian population. In spite of this, unemployment remains a major challenge facing young people in Liberia. This situation exists because of the belief among young people in the country that farming is not a worthy venture.

Matthew Ndote of the USAID Advancing Youth Project, Nelson Kanneh of USAID Food and Enterprise Development Project and Junior Toe of the Community Youth Network Program Inc made presentations at the conference. They discussed strategies that would develop the Liberian youth’s interest in the agriculture sector.

In separate presentations during the just ended two-day USAID-assisted Ministry of Commerce and Industry Micro/Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Conference 2014, the speakers said with a population of 3.8 million people in Liberia, 60% of that number constituted the youth. Out of said 60%, only 3% are involved in agriculture, whereas 70% of Liberia’s GDP is in the agriculture sector and there is still high unemployment among the youth.

According to Mr. Kanneh, “agriculture has a poor image in many parts of Africa. Liberia is no exception.’” In his opinion, young people can be the catalyst to change that image and add skills and needed innovation. “Employing the nation’s youth would help reduce crime and social instability” he added.

During his presentation, Mr. Junior Toe said “the sector has not provided enough information on opportunities with less labor. Information on quick income returns such as aggregators, sales agents, and managing farming records, machine operators and mechanics, extension technicians, short term labor services to farmers, and market intelligence / broker services must be shared with the youth.

The session was moderated by USAID Advancing Youth Livelihood Coordinator, Matthew Ndote, who called on Liberian youth to develop and sustain their interest in agriculture and agronomic practices. He said these are things that will improve their economic situation and that of the country. Mr. Ndote said there are a lot of opportunities in Liberia that youth who wants to go into agriculture can take advantage off. He said they should not allow those opportunities to pass them by.

The conference was attended by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and some top government officials of Liberia, with the support of USAID FED, IBEX, Building Markets, IFC, and BSC Monrovia amongst other partners, stakeholders and civil society organizations. The objective of the event was to allow the government to take stock of the MSME sector in Liberia and help deliver key training workshops to assist MSMEs in all stages of development, and examine practical steps that other key players including banks, micro finance institutions, and concessionaires can take to promote sustainable growth leading to employment creation and jobs.

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