Nearing the end of its youth strategy for 2013-2017, CTA can now make a positive report in terms of support for hiring young people in the agricultural value chains, for innovation, entrepreneurship and the use of ITC in agriculture, the main lines of action of this strategy.
Support for the organisation of the second international "Youth and green jobs" Forum (FIJEV) held in Niamey (Niger) in June 2014, in association with the Republic of Niger and with the Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF), was an example of the actions of this strategy. During this forum, more than 200 young people aged between18 and 34 competed with presentations of their business projects on the subject of sustainable agriculture, ITC and social and joint entrepreneurship.
CTA contributed to the success of this meeting by financing the participation of experts and some of the young people and by providing the winners with the resources to finalise and develop their projects by means of a grant and technical support (especially in project management and business planning). Among the fifteen competition winners, selected for the quality of their business projects creating green jobs, five were financed by CTA. In their own way, each of these young people presented innovative projects. Four West African countries (Benin, Niger, Central African Republic and Senegal) received recognition.
Mathieu, Djibril, Kader, Rodrigue and Yacouba, young green entrepreneurs
In Benin, agricultural producers have for some time noticed a marked decrease in soil fertility, resulting in a fall in productivity. Aware of this situation and thanks to the support of the CTA, Mathieu Anatole Tèlé Ayenan, with four other young Benin people, created the Agri-Food and Agricultural Cooperative of Benin (CAAG). CAAG set up an integrated farm on an area of 5 hectares. This farm combines raising local sheep and chickens with vegetable production (cassava and maize) and the processing of cassava into gari and ''tapioca''. The production system is based on the integration of agriculture and livestock, which consists of using the residues from the processing of cassava into animal feed and the waste from the animals to fertilise the soil. This enables them not only to remedy the low soil fertility, but also to reduce consumption of chemical fertilisers and concentrates for livestock rearing. As well as the five young pioneers, the farm has two permanent employees. In a progress report they show themselves to be enthusiastic and realistic about the difficulties encountered, especially in relation to access to water which requires drilling as opposed to the initial plans based on a simple well. According to Mathieu, "the implementation of our project is a contribution to the sustainable intensification of agriculture and it enables us to influence the life of producers who are inspired by our production techniques". It is in this spirit and with the support of CTA that Mathieu took part as a young entrepreneur in the Youth Agribusiness, Leadership, and Entrepreneurship Summit on Innovation (YALESI), held in March 2016 in Dakar, Senegal.
Djibril Niang, from Senegal, started a waste recycling and reuse business, with his project called Joal 3R. His idea? To recover and sort waste (tyres, tins, wood pallets) to create an above ground market garden. To fertilise it, Djibril intends to create compost from the organic waste from the homes of customers who buy his garden products. According to him, this is "an ecological and economic alternative for the production of healthy and quality agricultural food products." CTA also helped Djibril to attend YALESI 2016.
A small tree from India nicknamed the "miracle tree", the moringa, attracted the interest of Kader Kaneye from Niger. He created a unit for processing moringa into innovative products. "We offer different types of product, such as moringa leaves, moringa powder, a fortifying tea, oil of a similar quality to olive oil as well as innovative long-term products, such as natural anti-ageing products, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, cosmetics and biogas", he explains. With four employees and some volunteers, the project gathered its first harvest in early January 2015, and also had to deal with water supply problems. However, he points out that the CTA's support was a decisive factor, as it allowed him to buy water stored in containers.
Yacouba Alfari Bonkano, from Niger, has invented a mineral coal drier. It is an innovative system for dehydrating food products that Yacouba has patented with the African Intellectual Property Organisation (AIPO). Through Yabe and his limited liability company (sarl), the young agronomic engineer produces tomato powder from dried tomato. The goals pursued by Yabe are to enable market garden producers to be more resilient in the face of poverty, to promote the social and professional integration of young people in a rural environment and to enable the judicious use of local resources. "The company has already helped to process more than 40 tons of fresh tomatoes from our producers into biological tomato powder, which can be preserved for two years", says Yacouba. "In fact, the company's goal falls in line with food sovereignty: to replace imported tomato concentrates with local tomato derivatives. At the present moment, Yabe has six employees, four of whom are full-time, and this has helped to create more than 20 jobs with three market garden cooperatives from which it buys tomatoes. Looking to the future the company plans to incorporate two other crops into the processing chain besides tomato, which is available on a regular basis throughout the year. Yacouba presented his activities at YALESI 2016, which were greeted with much positive feedback. Previously he was also selected to participate at COP 21 in Paris at the end of 2015.
A community of inventors
It is still too early to draw conclusions from the experiences of these young entrepreneurs, although each of them has shown inventiveness and a remarkable spirit of enterprise. Their meetings have also enabled them to create links that will undoubtedly help them to adapt, reorient and reinforce their projects when that becomes necessary.
The CTA also supports entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector in a variety of other ways, e.g., though projects selected in connection with its call for youth projects, or in relation with a key project implemented by the Caribbean producers' network CAFAN.