The rural young population of Africa is rapidly growing and is expected to rise until at least 2040, in a context of rapid change in agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The key objective of this network is to promote robust empirical academic work on issues related to agricultural transformation in a number of African countries, particularly in relation to rural young people, in order to inform the agricultural policy processes on the continent.
The YARA (Young African Researchers in Agriculture) network is launched at the UNECA Conference on Land Policy in Africa in November 2014.
In concrete terms, the network plans to undertake the following activities:
- Mobilizing research funding for long term research work to generate panel data on the implications of agricultural developments in Africa with a particular focus on rural young people.
- Publishing together various academic outputs (research papers, working papers, books, blogs etc).
- Organizing conferences, seminars, panels at the academic conferences to engage vigorously in the debates on issues of common interests for our network.
- Informal networking through various social media and e-mails to strengthen the bond between members of the network and sharing of information about opportunities but also the challenges that we may face as young and early career African researchers with the intention to build each other so that we can grow sustainably in our respective careers.
- Organizing writing workshops to sharpen and optimize the human capital development of the members of the network.
Background and membership
The idea of starting a network of young and early career African researchers in agriculture in Africa was born through informal discussions among young African researchers who attended the international conference on agricultural investment, gender and land in Africa in Cape Town, March 2014.
The network primarily seeks to bring together young and early career African researchers in agriculture in order to cultivate the culture of supporting one another, sharing information, networking, and collaborating for research projects.
Many of YARA’s members are PhD candidates or those who have recently completed their PhDs but the network also welcomes other young researchers with Masters’ degrees who are working in agricultural and rural development in Africa. It connects with and complements existing networks of more experienced and senior researchers working on young people and the agri-food sector.
The network is not only for young African researchers in terms of age. It also includes early career African academics who have experience and knowledge but are approaching the next level. Currently, the network has members in about 14 African countries (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, and Madagascar).
Institute of Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies
Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, UK
Photo: YARA network launch at the Conference on Land Policy in Africa, Addis Ababa, November 2014 (Source: @chikonatie’s Twitter stream)