Reinvesting youth in agriculture

Réinvestir la jeunesse dans l'agriculture

Reinvesting youth in agriculture

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Social and professional integration is not just for street children. Louvain Coopération supports other training initiatives, such as in South Kivu, in the Walungu area, where we have been involved in this field for 6 years. Our aim? To guide young people in the region into agricultural entrepreneurship.

Between 2016 and 2021, in the province of South Kivu, 600 vulnerable children and orphans were supported to finance their minerval fees and thus complete their primary or secondary education. Subsequently, less than 5% of these young people went on to university, and the majority of those who obtained an official state diploma are unemployed. However, some of these young people went on to vocational training and received a socio-professional integration kit to get them started. This includes tools, advice and support in developing their small businesses. These young people have set up cutting and sewing workshops, and developed small businesses in car mechanics, bricklaying, joinery...

Focusing on agricultural entrepreneurship

Based on this experience, Louvain Coopération has decided, for its 2022-2026 programme in South Kivu, to invest more in technical training for young people and to target agricultural technical schools in particular, "because agriculture is the main activity in this rural area, with a lot of potential, but the agricultural section is less well attended and the needs of these schools are great", says Olivier Matumaini, Sustainable Food Systems Project Manager for Louvain Coopération in the DRC. "Young people back home aren't very attracted to farming, because for them it's dirty work that pays less and isn't highly valued. So we felt it was important to support this sector, to change things."

Thanks to financial support from the Belgian government, as well as the Aflam foundation and the Lotus Bakeries company, Louvain Coopération is supporting 4 technical high schools, which teach 486 students in agricultural techniques. In practical terms, the main aim is to strengthen the practical aspect of these courses. "We are helping to improve their demonstration units by financing most of what they lack. For example, we have rehabilitated a hutch for raising rabbits at the Muku school, bought a boar for the piggery at the Cihérano school, trained pupils to set up a macro-propagator for healthy banana shoots, etc. We have also set up management committees for the demonstration units", Olivier Matumaini details.

 

"We also offer training courses for teachers and school managers to develop a continuing education plan with them."

Exchange visits between schools and to agricultural businesses in the region are being set up, and a "business plan competition " is also planned for young graduates. The project with the greatest potential is part-funded.

At the end of the training, graduates who launch an IGA (income-generating activity) in the field of the circular economy and/or agro-ecology, for example market gardening, domestic livestock, small trade, crafts, or other are monitored and supported by our teams as micro-entrepreneurs. The aim is to support the development of their initiatives, but also to analyse which training courses are the most promising in terms of socio-professional integration.

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