African young agricultural entrepreneurs on Tuesday decried poor access to soft agricultural loans, which, according to them, was hampering the growth of their agri-businesses.
They made this known at a session panel on the sidelines of the Africa youth event in the Rwandan capital Kigali, with the theme: “Youth Employment in Agriculture as a Solid Solution to Ending Hunger and Poverty in Africa.”
Rwanda hosted the conference fromn August 20-21 with much emphasis on engaging African youths to take part in agricultural transformation on the continent through Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and entrepreneurship.
“Poor access to agricultural loans has become a big challenge to our agricultural businesses due to high interest bank rates and demands for collaterals from financial institutions,” the founder of Rwanda-based Gashora Farm Ltd, a chilli pepper processing company, Mr. Dieudonne Twahirwa, said.
He called on African governments to allocate funds to support young people in agri-business in order to address challenges associated with access to bank loans.
The two-day conference brought together participants from across Africa and beyond including representatives from governments, development partners, the private sector, youth and women organisations, civil society organisations, research and academia.
According to the organisers, the high-level youth event also aimed to foster exchange among stakeholders on knowledge and best practices regarding the interfaces between agriculture, youth employment, entrepreneurship and ICT innovations.
The Chairperson of the youth wing of Zimbabwe farmers union, Ruramiso Mashumba, said African youths are looking forward to starting agri-business ventures, but are let down by financial institutions that are reluctant to release money to finance farming ventures.
“African governments should put in place a youth entrepreneurship policy to tackle challenges affecting young people who are creating jobs through agri-business enterprises”, he said.
According to him, young entrepreneurs have limited capacity and quite often run short of money to improve their small businesses either in the agriculture sector or other sectors, resulting into business closure.
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