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    Monday, May 8, 2023

    Côte D’Ivoire: Viviane, a Young Graduate Swearing by Agriculture to Achieve Her Dreams

    Thanks to the African Development Bank, her dream of becoming an agricultural entrepreneur is taking shape.

    Viviane Kakou, the geographer who doesn’t want to work in an office, urges young graduates, especially women, to get involved in agriculture “because there are lots of opportunities in it”

    Viviane Kakou, who has a master’s degree in geography, didn’t want to spend her career in an office. She chose agriculture out of passion. Thanks to the African Development Bank, her dream of becoming an agricultural entrepreneur is taking shape. 

    “When I was studying for my degree,” she explains, “I was working on the rural economy among women in Afféry, in Adzopé department in the south-east of the country. I began to appreciate agriculture and thought I could earn my living from it. So, I came to it out of choice.” 

    For almost six months, Kakou, a 37-year-old woman, has been training at the Higher School of Agronomy (ESA) in Yamoussoukro, the country’s political capital, which is implementing the project to employ young people in agribusinesses in Côte d’Ivoire (“Enable Youth Côte d’Ivoire”). This national programme has received €1.4 million in financial support from the African Development Bank. 

    The project, as part of its incubation phase, is training a new generation of young farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs and equipping them to support the structural transformation of local agriculture through technological innovation. It also encourages young graduates, aged 21-37, to return to the land if they have a minimum of two years’ post-secondary education. 

    “I’m working on the value chain for cassava. I chose to work in subsistence agriculture because I see cassava as white gold,” explains Kakou. In 2017, she visited Brazil, thanks to the project, which offered her a training course on cassava. “The main derivative of cassava, here, is attiéke. But there are so many cassava derivatives that can be used,” she says, buoyed by the support she has been given by Enable Youth to create her small enterprise. 

    “This project is important, because it creates optimal conditions for agricultural entrepreneurship through support for capacity building, promoting professionals in agriculture and funding projects for young people,” says ESA’s Director, Siaka Koné, with delight. 

    In 2018, 70%-90% of working age Ivorians were in vulnerable jobs or unemployed. Kone says: “The aim of the “Enable Youth Côte d’Ivoire” project is to build the capacity of young graduates to create businesses in agricultural value chains. Young graduates will be trained in the skills needed by modern farmers using incubators that support agri-business projects. Following the incubation phase, they will receive support to fund their businesses.”

    In addition to agriculture and animal production, beneficiaries of the “Enable Youth Côte d’Ivoire” pilot project are also learning about processing and e-commerce. This includes producing and processing cassava into flour, attiéke, a food staple, and other derivatives, such as liquid cassava waste, which can be processed into ethanol.

    Others are working to produce and process peppers into purée and powder, off-season production of plantain; quail and quail eggs; oyster and Ganoderma mushrooms; and rearing rabbits or guinea fowl. 

    Kakou would like to see other young graduates follow in her footsteps. “I’d like to send a message to young people, especially young women, and tell them that I wasn’t simply at a loose end. I have a master’s degree in geography, so finding a job wouldn’t have been an issue. But there are lots of opportunities in agriculture. I’d recommend they get involved. We can coach them to change their plans,” says Kakou, who in addition to Brazil, has travelled to Ibadan, Nigeria, to advance her agricultural know-how, thanks to the African Development Bank. 

    “I’d like to thank the African Development Bank, our Minister for Young People and the Youth Employment Programme. Thanks to them, my dream is coming true,” Kakou concludes, standing in an experimental cassava field of a quarter of a hectare in size. 

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