The Southern Africa Development Community needs to create an average of 11 million new jobs every year if the region is to keep up with the rapidly growing population of young people.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan pointed out here that SADC is essentially the region with the youngest population in the world because over 60 percent of its 380 million residents are mostly the youth aged between 18 and 35 years.
And over 11 million of the restless youth enter the job market every year but very few get employed.
“The only area which can guarantee reliable and sustainable employment for the youth in the SADC region is agriculture,” President Samia stated in Arusha.
She made the statement during the official opening of the 53rd plenary assembly session of the Southern Africa Development Community Parliamentary Forum taking place at the Grand Melia Hotel.
The Forum, which happens to be the fourth that Tanzania hosts, runs under the theme of ‘The Role of Parliaments in Modernizing Agriculture to Address Food Insecurity and Youth Unemployment.’
“It is rather sad to learn that more than 50 million people in the SADC region are food insecure, despite the fact that we have nearly 9.9 Million square kilometers of arable land capable of producing bumper harvests,” President Samia maintained.
According to President Samia Suluhu, the solution to both problems, that is food insecurity and youth unemployment, is for countries to invest heavily in agriculture.
“Tanzania is increasing its annual agricultural budgets and as of the current fiscal year counting, the country has designated over 1 trillion/- into the sector,” she pointed out, adding that the emphasis is in irrigation and technology.
She implored other SADC member states to channel more funds into food production and also ensure that the sector involves the youth.
“Tanzania is already setting an example by incubating young people in the sector through the recently launched ‘Building a Better Tomorrow,’ program,” she stated.
The Head of State said, most Tanzanian youth are eager to get involved in agricultural activities because upon announcing the program, thousands of young people turned up to be enrolled.
“We selected 812 for pioneering projects and they are being trained at 13 special incubation centers,” President Samia explained.
Through the ‘Building a Better Tomorrow,’ program, the youth will be provided with pieces of land for farming, financial support through loaning schemes and be assured of market opportunities.
Delegates from the 15 SADC member states attending the Parliamentary Forum will be visiting some of the Youth Agricultural Incubation Centers, in Arusha.
Earlier on during the preceding symposium, the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Speaker, Jacob Mudenda said his country has managed to transform the agricultural sector against all odds despite suffering more than a decade of international sanctions.
“At the moment Zimbabwe is self-sufficient in grain. We no longer need to import wheat,” Speaker Mudenda pointed out.