Youth employment in agriculture

Project description

Title: Promoting youth employment through agricultural development
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Sierra Leone
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Labour and Social Security
Overall term: 2005 to 2016


Over 60 per cent of young people in Sierra Leone are unemployed or underemployed. The lack of prospects – one of the principal causes of the lengthy civil war – is still considered a major threat to peace and stability in Sierra Leone by the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission.

Youth employment is a source of great economic potential. Yet in the twelve years since the end of the armed conflict, the country’s production and employment potential has still not been fully tapped, especially in the rural private sector. Skilled workers are in short supply. And after a decade of civil war and poor government funding, the education situation also remains inadequate. Around half of Sierra Leone’s population is unable to read or write. Without needs-oriented training and practical work experience, it is difficult for young people in particular to find productive employment.


The employment and income situation for young people in rural areas of Sierra Leone is improved.


Much has been achieved over the past ten years with the support of the project team. Young families from Freetown have returned to their hometowns and villages. The project has run literacy campaigns, many involving women. Development plans have been prepared by district administrations. The project team provided advisory services to the Ministry of Labour and implemented further training for employees. Young people have received support with producing, processing and marketing agricultural produce.

The project team works in three districts: Koinadugu in the north, and Kono and Kailahun in the east of the country. In each of the three districts, the team selected two traditional administrative areas in which poverty was particularly acute and the potential for employment was high. At political level, the project supports the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Agriculture in particular. The focus of activities is on three agricultural product groups: coffee and cocoa, rice, livestock. In collaboration with its national and international partners, the project team aims to further develop local agriculture and in so doing generate employment opportunities for young men and women.

AFC Agriculture and Finance Consultants is responsible for the cocoa and coffee value chains in the districts of Kono and Kailahun. It works with companies to improve these value chains and create jobs for young people.

The project takes a multilevel approach, seeking to bring about the desired results through a combination of policy advice at national level and promotion of state and private intermediaries in the service sector, as well as through activities to create jobs and income at target group level.

  1. The project team advises and trains relevant members of staff at state institutions, including the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture, to enable them to draft strategies geared to reducing youth unemployment and to initiate effective economic promotion measures for small entrepreneurs.
  2. National and local state and non-state service providers are funded and contracted to undertake work with the target groups. The activities focus on good agricultural practice, vocational education and training, and promoting small enterprises.
  3. The service providers train young people for employment in agricultural operations along the value chains for coffee, cocoa, rice and livestock. Farmers’ groups are brought up to speed with aspects of organisation and technology through the provision of training courses. Support is also provided initially in the form of production resources.
  4. The project team works with its partners to develop vocational education courses for the three agricultural value chains.
  5. The project enters into development partnerships with established companies, so that the public and private sectors work together on job creation. The project provides financial and professional support to business startups and for enterprise development. Advisory services, training and equipment for small businesses make it easier for entrepreneurs to earn a living from their businesses, and to expand them and create additional jobs.


In 2014, the cabinet concluded a new National Employment Policy. The implementation plan was developed in 2015. The project supports the ministry with implementation.

Over 10,000 cocoa farmers have improved production quality, increased sales and raised income by 30 per cent to around 650 euros per year. In 2014, an additional 6,200 cocoa and coffee farmers were registered with a view to rehabilitating their land and boosting cocoa and coffee production. Farmers are given support with cultivation, husbandry, processing, quality management and marketing. 600 people have found employment in cocoa processing centres.

1,000 young people from 49 villages have come together with a view to using 450 hectares of wetland for rice production. To prepare for this task, they took part in training courses focusing on team building, organisation and sound agricultural practices. 780 young people earned a short-term income by helping to prepare the wetlands for rice cultivation. So far, the young people have farmed 300 hectares, parts of which are capable of yielding two harvests per year.

1,000 small farmers, most of them women, are seeking to expand their goat farming businesses. They built goat pens out of their own resources and planted fodder trees. Buyers for the livestock come from surrounding villages. Local animal welfare helpers trained by the project take care of the animals’ health. In total, 300 young men and women will undertake this training; 60 have already completed it.

Organisations from Sierra Leone support the many project activities. Their employees took part in training on increased production, financial management, administration and operating GPS systems. They now pass their knowledge on to small farmers, many of them women.

The project team trained 15 trainers in business management; they in turn are now training young people. All small entrepreneurs working in agriculture in the three districts are taking part in courses on business management. The first 50 participants have already started their courses.

2,500 young people have returned to their home villages since 2005 and are now employed in agriculture there. For them and their families the annual income from agriculture now amounts to around 800 euros.