San José, 31 March 2021 (IICA). The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN) will strengthen knowledge exchange between the Americas and Africa to promote rural well-being, agricultural productivity, food security and the rational use of natural resources, by way of an agreement that will also foster dialogue between young Americans and Africans living in rural areas.
These actions will be defined within the framework of a technical cooperation agreement signed by IICA, the international organization specialized in agricultural and rural development, and CSAYN, an organization of volunteers from Africa, Asia, the United States and Europe based in Cameroon, which seeks to raise awareness among young people and vulnerable groups of the importance of agriculture as part of the solution to fight against climate change.
IICA and CSAYN will join efforts to guarantee the development of sustainable agriculture as an opportunity to increase the well-being of young people and populations vulnerable to climate variability.
“We are united by rurality. Our two continents must come together, and agriculture is the best bridge to achieve this unity. At IICA, we believe that this alliance is strategic to promoting sustainable development in rural areas”, said Director General Manuel Otero, who offered to facilitate a dialogue between young leaders from both continents to share their experiences, innovative technologies and good agricultural practices.
The founder and director of CSAYN, Ntiokam Divine, also expressed interest in organizing a preliminary Food Systems Summit, where young people could contribute to strengthening the position of producers at the UN Food Systems Summit, which will be held at the end of September.
“Africa is a continent with a bright future,” said Mr. Divine, who explained that about 65% of the continent’s lands are arable, making it crucial to transform agrifood systems.
“This constitutes a great opportunity”, he said, “because we must ensure the sustainability of agriculture, not only to increase productivity, but also to reduce rural migration”.
The areas for cooperation defined in the agreement include bioeconomy; territorial development and family farming; international trade and regional integration; climate change, natural resources and risk management in production; and gender and youth.
The alliance will seek to generate tools to support the creation of development strategies, the mobilization of external funds, the provision of technical and operational assistance for the implementation of programs, the promotion of knowledge exchange and experience sharing, as well as the organization of seminars and training courses through IICA’s digital platform.
Due to the close ties that exist between the countries and regions of the Americas and Africa, the signing of the agreement between IICA and CSAYN featured the participation of many distinguished guests. Among these were the Ambassador of Brazil to Costa Rica, Antonio Francisco da Costa Silva e Neto, and the Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago to this Central American country, Anesa Ali-Rodríguez.
“The Atlantic should no longer be seen as an ocean, but rather as a river over which we must build bridges. Hence the significance of this agreement between IICA and CSAYN. IICA and my country have long-standing ties, and we are looking forward to this cooperation”, said the Brazilian diplomat.
“The participation of young people in the agricultural sector still faces multiple challenges such as training, restoring the value of agricultural work and, more importantly, access to capital; regarding this last point, we have had positive experiences that could be beneficial for Africa”, he added.
For her part, the Trinidadian ambassador called attention to the potential and relevance of the agreement in view of the similarities between the people of Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. “The shared historical and cultural ties are reflected in many different aspects including food, culture, smallholder and family farming practices, rural production systems and agricultural history”, she affirmed.
In addition, she underscored the importance of the agreement in preparation for the UN Food Systems Summit. “As we approach a post-pandemic reality, we must be mindful not to lose what we previously gained in terms of inclusion of youth and vulnerable groups,” she said.
“Africa is a part of what we are,” said Otero, who described the agreement as “highly strategic” and immediately proposed a dialogue between young leaders from rural Africa and the Americas. In recent months, IICA has organized different forums to promote dialogue among the rural youth of the Americas, where the Institute regularly conducts its work.