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CIRED launches $4 million Youth in Agriculture project in Senegal

For more than a century, youth in 4-H clubs have pledged to make their communities, their countries and their world a better place.

Thanks to the shared visions of USAID, CIRED and Virginia Cooperative Extension, youth in Senegal can now join thousands of of youth around the world in becoming positive agents of change in their communities, while gaining valuable skills in agriculture.

On May 22, 2018, CIRED officially launched its newest project, Feed the Future Senegal Jeunesse en Agriculture (Youth in Agriculture), at the Centre International de Conférences Abdou Diouf (CICAD) in Diamniadio, Senegal.

The five-year, $4 million project will continue the work of the Education and Research in Agriculture (ERA) project by expanding 4-H clubs across Senegal and institutionalizing positive youth development nationally.

Hundreds of project partners and participants attended the event, including representatives from Virginia Tech, Virginia Cooperative Extension, USAID, the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MESRI), agricultural education training and research institutions, food producers, and various Senegalese non-profit organizations.

Professor Amadou Thierno Gaye, director of Research and Innovation at MESRI, applauded USAID and Virginia Tech for bringing the project to fruition. Kitty Andang, USAID/Senegal deputy mission director, Thomas Archibald, project director and assistant professor, and Bineta Guisse, national director, also delivered remarks.

“This project fits squarely within the priorities of the Government of Senegal and of USAID, both of which realize the importance of engaging young people in positive youth development and agricultural entrepreneurship,” said Archibald.

Emceed by ERA staff – Pierre Diatta and Fatimata Kane – the ceremony was filled with engaging activities for guests, including icebreaker activities, video highlights, commemorative photos, and a “wall of fame,” a display in which participants wrote commemorative messages marking the occasion.

Dieynaba Badiane, youth entrepreneur, and Youth 4-H Leader and member Fatou Diouf, a student at the Institute for Advanced Agricultural and Rural Training in Bambey, spoke highly of the project’s impact during the launch.

“We are proud to celebrate the launch of the project, because we remain convinced that a project cannot be more useful than one that serves humanity,” said Diouf. “This ambitious program, implemented by passionate and unselfish actors, is a model for the path to development.”

The project will also work with vocational training institutions to strengthen their connections to private-sector actors and markets, including the piloting of innovative approaches for creating entrepreneurship and income-generating opportunities for youth. 

Following the ceremony, participants toured the Cité du Savoir (City of Knowledge), a new 34.5 acre project under construction 20 miles east of Dakar that will serve as an innovation hub for Senegalese researchers and the sub-region as part of the country’s economic emergence. 

During the pilot phase of the project under ERA, the Youth in Agriculture program reached approximately 600 youth. During the next five years, the program is projected to reach 22,000 youth with at least 60 percent female participation in eight regions.

In addition to local staff in the project management unit, others attending from Virginia Tech included: Rick Rudd, department head, of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education, Ozzie Abaye, professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Kathleen Jamison, professor emeritus and Virginia State 4-H extension specialist, and Jeremy Johnson, state 4-H leader.