As an international financial institution working to alleviate rural poverty, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has provided $18.5 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects since 1978 that have reached about 464 million people. To address challenges of youth development throughout many of its country programs, IFAD is promoting a new approach to agriculture and rural development: youth-sensitive development, incorporating aspirations and concerns of youth and targeting specific programs and policy toward agribusiness improvements so youth can succeed.
In Cameroon, 50 percent of the economically active population is involved in agriculture. Youth in rural Cameroon are particularly vulnerable to poverty and are unable to access improved seeds, fertilizers, mechanization or irrigation. Agriculture’s importance will rise as Cameroon’s oil revenue declines.
IFAD’s Youth Agropastoral Entrepreneurship Promotion Program (PEA-Youth) is focused on improving the productivity and sustainability of agriculture and helping young people develop viable agropastoral businesses. Using a model of “business incubators”, youth gain access to services such as mentoring, along with skills training for business creation and management, training in technical skills, access to finance and financial education.
The program also helps the government of Cameroon improve the institutional and legal frameworks of public policy so that youth can access land. By completion in 2021, the program should reach nearly 40 percent of the youth population living in rural areas and benefit 50,400 households.