The project Promoting Youth Entrepreneurship and Job Creation in West Africa’s Rice Value Chain (PEJERIZ) hit a major milestone in October 2018. More than 300 young people from Mali and Senegal, almost a third of them women, attended two AfricaRice mobilisation workshops. The first was in Saint-Louis, Senegal in July 2018, and the second in Segou, Mali in October 2018.
At the workshops, the young people from selected rural areas learned about employment and income-generation opportunities throughout the rice value chain. From paddy (unmilled rice) production and rice processing and marketing, to the provision of consulting and mechanised services. According to Dr Mandiaye Diagne, regional coordinator of the PEJERIZ project, the call for expressions of interest launched ahead of the workshops prompted a high volume of applications from young people keen to get involved in the rice value chain. Details of the events were also broadcast on ORTM, Mali’s national TV channel.
Following the workshops, the AfricaRice team selected 200 young people from the two countries to attend training sessions on the following topics:
- Business planning, financial management, credit management and decision-making
- Integrated rice management
- Rice marketing
- Service provision throughout the rice value chain.
The first training sessions were held in Senegal and Mali in October 2018, with the final sessions scheduled for delivery before the end of 2018. AfricaRice will then select 80 of the 200 young trainees with the most promising business ideas, who will subsequently receive financial support and further training to bring their plans to fruition.
The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), meanwhile, has already begun supporting 10 new Centres for Mechanised Services (CEMAs) in the two countries, with plans to create another one in Mali by 2019. The CEMAs have so far recruited and trained 45 RiceAdvice Service Agents, and awareness-raising activities have been carried out in rice-growing regions – although more than 470 rice farmers are already familiar with the RiceAdvice tool.