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UN agriculture agencies to strengthen rural employment opportunities for Caribbean youth

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have joined forces to tackle the growing level of youth unemployment in the Caribbean through a youth employment programme called FAO/FIDA-Youth Caribe.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD, or FIDA by its Spanish acronym) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have joined forces to tackle the growing level of youth unemployment in the Caribbean.

The US$2.7 million dollar programme, known as FAO/FIDA-Youth Caribe, which aims to strengthen decent rural employment opportunities for young women and men in the Caribbean, will be implemented in coordination with a number of Caribbean governments and key stakeholders in six countries: Belize, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana and Haiti. Other countries in the region, including Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, are also expected to benefit from the programme's regional activities.

“With youth unemployment rates that are among the highest in the world, reinventing the role of Caribbean youth in agriculture is critical both for the region’s future and, more importantly, for young women and men themselves,” said Paolo Silveri, IFAD’s Country Programme Manager for the Dominican Republic and the officer in charge from IFAD for the FAO/FIDA-Youth Caribe programme.

 “Caribbean youth face enormous challenges. The high levels of youth unemployment in the region inhibit their social and economic development. This, in turn, has adverse consequences on a range of issues, including poverty, delinquency and food and nutrition security. The agricultural sector can play a significant role in creating decent employment opportunities for youth, which can stimulate a sense of community and pride which contributes to personal and regional development,” said John Ronald Deep Ford, FAO Coordinator for the Caribbean.

The project is built on the positive experience and collaboration between FAO and IFAD in various activities towards youth employment and specifically in the Caribbean region. It will adopt the learning route methodology of PROCASURdeveloped in the Caribbean through a joint IFAD/FAO/PROCASUR youth employment project on the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, entitled “Knowledge sharing and mutual learning on food security and income generation practices in the border areas of Haiti and the Dominican Republic”, executed between September 2012 and December 2013.

FAO/FIDA-Youth Caribe will take a four-pronged approach. Firstly, it will map out successful youth rural employment good practices and policies across the region. Secondly, it will promote these strategies and good practices through learning routes, participative knowledge-sharing events and training.

Thirdly, the programme will provide small grants for rural youth organizations and youth to set up similar income-generating initiatives across the region. Fourthly, the initiative will advocate with local authorities to implement policies that provide the legal, financial and institutional tools needed for those initiatives to be expanded to national and regional levels. These measures may lead to the creation of national youth rural employment plans and, eventually, to a regional Caribbean youth rural employment strategy.

“Over the next three years, FAO/FIDA-Youth Caribe will identify opportunities for generating employment for young people from rural areas across the Caribbean in the areas of food production, processing and marketing, as well as agro-tourism,” said Paolo Silveri.

“By combining the efforts and expertise of the region’s governments, private sector, rural youth organisations and development agencies, the number of beneficiaries of FAO/FIDA- Youth Caribe has the potential to go from the hundreds to the thousands,” he added.

“A coordinated response to increase youth involvement in agriculture is more important than ever in the region. Providing young people with the jobs they need will drive innovation in agriculture and make it possible to reduce rural poverty and increase food security of youth and adults”, said John Ronald Deep Ford.

FAO/FIDA- Youth Caribe is being launched today in Bridgetown, Barbados. Participants in the inception workshop will include youth leaders from across the Caribbean, representatives from governments, international development partners, civil society and the private sector.

Notes:

To learn more about IFAD’s work in Latin America and the Caribbean:http://www.ifad.org/operations/projects/regions/pl/index.htm

http://www.ifad.org/operations/projects/regions/pl/factsheet/brochure_e.pdf

To learn more about FAO’s work in Latin American and the Caribbean:

http://www.fao.org/americas/acerca-de/en/

Paolo Silveri, IFAD Country Programme Manager responsible for the design of the FAO/FIDA-Youth Caribe programme, and John Ronald Deep Ford, Sub-regional Coordinator for FAO in the Caribbean, will be available for interviews in person and on the phone.

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