A regional forum organized by the

Over five days, the forum on “Investing in rural youth – How we do plant the seeds for the future?” will focus on effective investments that create opportunities for youth in rural areas. While the number of young people in Africa has never been higher, the situation is particularly acute in rural Sub-Saharan Africa, and especially in West and Central Africa, where half of the population is under 25 years of age.

While they have a positive role to play in the development of their communities, too often young rural people are disadvantaged because of their age, facing social and cultural constraints that make it difficult for them to gain access to land and financial resources.

In recent years, IFAD has played an important role in advocating for and investing in initiatives that encourage sustainable agriculture and entrepreneurialism among rural youth.

Nearly 300 participants are expected to attend the forum, including those from IFAD-funded projects and development partners from the West and Central Africa region. The forum will provide participants with opportunities to discuss recent developments, including IFAD strategy and portfolio performance, as well as to agree on how all partners can improve on results which will impact directly on the lives of the rural poor.

Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture of Nigeria, will open the forum on 15 March along with Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD.

Other high-ranking government officials are also expected to attend the opening ceremony.

A special day dedicated to the environment and climate change has been planned for 14 March, giving participants the opportunity to take part in sessions exploring the impact that climate change poses on agriculture, rural communities and young people.  Ides de Willebois, IFAD's Regional Director for West and Central Africa, will open the event.

Since its founding in 1977, IFAD has supported national efforts to improve the lives of smallholder farmers in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world. As of August 2015, IFAD has 50 ongoing programmes and projects in 23 countries in West and Central Africa, representing US $1.3 billion in IFAD financing and benefitting more than 4 million people, 58 percent of whom are women.