NAIROBI, 29th May 2023 – We the African Youth, having gathered from 24 Countries at the 1st Africa Youth Summit on Food Systems held from May 27 to 29, 2023, in Machakos County, Kenya, collectively deepened our understanding of agroecology’s transformative potential in building Food Sovereignty. Through this summit, we have developed shared strategies to promote and safeguard agroecology from co-optation, recognising its significance as a powerful tool for restoring and revitalizing our food systems and rural communities, which have suffered under the dominance of industrial food production and so-called Green Revolutions.
We the African youth declare our unwavering commitment to advocating for an immediate and inclusive transition to agroecology as a solution to the climate, rising food and input prices due to high inflation, and ongoing global and regional conflicts in Africa. As representatives of Africa’s vibrant and dynamic young generation, making up at least 60% of the continent, we recognise the pressing need to address the critical challenges facing the future of our continent’s food systems and sovereignty.
We firmly believe that agroecology represents a sustainable agricultural practice and a form of resistance against an economic system prioritizing profit over the well-being of our people and our environment. By adopting agroecology, we can nurture a regenerative and inclusive food system that respects our cultural heritage, preserves our social values, and safeguards our African identity.
We acknowledge the inrconnectedness of agroecology and politics, understanding that its successful implementation necessitates challenging and transforming societal power structures. Furthermore, we recognise that land ownership lies at the heart of ensuring food sovereignty and the preservation of our African heritage. Therefore, we assert that addressing land-related issues and factors such as farmer managed seed systems, biodiversity, food policies, knowledge, and culture is vital for achieving Africa’s sustainable and equitable food system.
In light of the considerations above, we, the African youth, unite in demanding the following:
- A comprehensive shift to agroecology across the entire food system, encompassing sustainable resource management, social empowerment, local value addition, short value chains, and equitable access to healthy and culturally appropriate food. Policymakers must provide robust support and invest in infrastructure to facilitate the wide scale adoption of agroecology, allowing farmers to adapt to climate change challenges while preserving our precious natural resources and biodiversity.
- Increased investment in agroecology to support small-scale farmers, promote sustainable farming methods, and prioritize biodiversity conservation. Furthermore, measures should be implemented to foster agroecological entrepreneurship for young people and create a conducive environment for a resilient and sustainable food system.
- Fair access to land, water, and other vital resources for young farmers and agroecological entrepreneurs. Policies must safeguard the land rights of youth, particularly women, indigenous and marginalized groups, ensuring equal distribution of resources to empower their entrepreneurial endeavors.
- Tailored financial assistance such as grants, and subsidies must be redirected by the Government and development partners to agroecology. This will enable young people to invest in sustainable agricultural practices, innovative technologies, and value addition activities crucial for facilitating access to capital.
- We vehemently call upon an African position against false narratives, including Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), Green Revolution agendas, the carbon market, and any other quick fixes.
- We demand fair trade and market access for young farmers and agroecological entrepreneurs. Creating market links, providing storage and processing facilities, and prioritizing local and regional markets are critical. In addition, policymakers should support youth-led cooperatives and fair pricing initiatives for agricultural produce.
- We demand for increased support for young people with the necessary education and skills for agroecological practices, climate change adaptation, and farmer seed management and conservation. This can be achieved by integrating agroecology and environmental education into school curricula and establishing vocational training centers for youth in the agriculture sector.
- We demand the meaningful inclusion of young people’s voices in agriculture, climate change, and food system policy discourse. It is essential to give a seat at the decision-making table, involving young people in policy and program design.
In conclusion improving food systems can be achieved by implementing the critical enablers mentioned above. Youth engagement and leadership are essential to attain food security and good nutrition for all, as they are connected to gender equality, women empowerment, the rural-urban linkage, and innovative practices and technologies. Empowering the next generation of farmers will therefore pave the way for a resilient and sustainable future.