July 15th is World Youth Skills Day. There are 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24 years, accounting for 16 percent of the global population. The active engagement of youth in sustainable development efforts is central to achieving sustainable, inclusive and stable societies by the target date, and to averting the worst threats and challenges to sustainable development, including the impacts of climate change, unemployment, poverty, gender inequality, conflict, and migration. However, young people are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and continuously exposed to lower quality of jobs, greater labor market inequalities, and longer and more insecure school-to-work transitions. This World Youth Skills Day, we emphasize the importance of Technical and Vocational Education and Training in providing youth with the opportunities to develop their competencies and accelerate their transition to work. SMARTE is an associate award under F2F and fields US volunteers to help conduct training.
Mr. Cherif with a representative of a women’s shallot producer group
Apprenticeship in Extension Entrepreneurship and Rural Innovation (AVENIR) initiative under the Strengthening Market-Led Agriculture Research, Technology, and Education (SMARTE) project provides an opportunity for Guinean youth to apprentice in Guinea’s agricultural sector while developing their own business plans.
Savana, a French-based regional ag-input supplier, was quick to contract AVENIR after starting operations in Guinea in March 2018. Under a partnership agreement, Winrock recruited two AVENIR specifically for Savana and trained them in a one-month business skills curriculum. In turn, Savana provided training on agro-inputs to 45 AVENIR and has covered all costs for the two AVENIR to conduct market studies on agricultural inputs in the Kindia and Kankan prefectures of Guinea.
AVENIR agents Alhassane Cisse and Haidara Cherif are currently collecting important crop data including planting, harvesting, major crop diseases, and disease control methods. They have already identified and cost over 15 agrochemicals on the Guinea market through contact with 17 agro-input suppliers and four federation representatives working with over 1,937 farmers groups.
Mr. Cherif has already proposed solutions to expand outreach through credible federations and distributors via an inventory monitoring system. Furthermore, Mr. Cherif finalized his own business ideas related to ag-input supply and private sector extension services through Kankan based producers’ organizations.
Savana’s vision is to be the leading ag-input supplier in Guinea by 2023. Amaury Fichant of Savana states, “Savana chose to work with trainees from the AVENIR program to expand into new regions of Guinea. The relationship allows us to be present on the ground day by day alongside the various actors of the agricultural sectors while offering AVENIR the opportunity to work with an international group while developing a truly market-based business plan. Through our actions, with the help of AVENIR agents, we wish to be involved in the development of Guinean agriculture.” The relationship between Savana and AVENIR demonstrates how the USAID-funded SMARTE program, Guinean youth, and the private sector can sustainably support Guinean producers to improve productivity and profitability.