Before UNDP decided to support Yormatah Youth Farmers Association in 2020, we felt their exuberance and determination to have a Youth Center of Excellence in Kono District which will bring youth from every part of the country to exemplify and inspire youth driven initiatives in the country far and wide.
“We are grateful to UNDP Sierra Leone for trusting our initiative and funding the establishment of an animal feed process center in Kono District. When we first conceived the idea of animal feed processing center in Kono, we were responding to a glaring need in our district and also to take steps beyond youth engagements in mining diamonds, a very attractive activity in Kono since the 1930s” says Aiah Emmanuel Gborie, Head of Programmes for the newly established Animal Feed Processing Center and the Yormatah Youth Farmers Association (YYFA) he Co-founded in 2015.
With the newly constructed Animal Feed Processing Center, Yormatah Youth Farmers Association is now self-producing and selling animal feed to local poultry and livestock farmers in Kono District, eastern Sierra Leone. A local poultry which almost shutdown owing to unsustainable animal feed supply is now revamping its operations in the District but this time, supplied by young people in the district who are producing animal feed with 100% local ingredients. About 25 more young people (15 females; 10 males) in the district have been engaged by YYFA. Local farmers in the District have just been supplied by YYFA with 12 tons of maize and fertilizers to plant. Upon harvest, these farmers will sell to YYFA. This approach has now established small scale seed enterprises with local farmers in Kono. Meanwhile, YYFA model is also giving technical knowledge and required skills needed to set up and run small-scale seed enterprises to 6 clusters of 30 youth farmers in 4 chiefdoms (Lei, Kamara, Sandor, and Sao).
“For us, this approach is in one hand promoting community ownership of youth led initiatives but also a sustainable way to run our animal feed processing center. In fact, all 180 youth farmers (100 females; 80 males) who are engaged in our maize production process are also doing other businesses. All of us would converge in our various gardens around 7am daily to work and leave by 10am so that everyone could go about their normal activities. We are committed to shifting perception about youth and farming within rural families and communities at the same time”-Gborie stated.
In a district casted in shadows of intensive mining activities, YYFA has raised the bar in terms of youth engagements in rural communities and inspired other youth to consider agriculture and related careers. As in our guess, this innovation now receives admirations from many other young people in Kono but, has come from just one young person who wants to build on the silver linings of a mining prone District at the same time responding to local demand whiles giving his heart to his youthful passion. Thus, building strong, inclusive farmers’ organizations in rural Sierra Leone.
Today, YYFA has taken steps further to now start its own poultry business and also now responding to high demand of poultry eggs in Kono District, seemingly, an unintended consequence of UNDP’s belief in youth- that our engagement with young people today will determine the prospects for sustainable development and peace.
According to Aiah, “We are expanding from a UNDP supported Animal Feed Processing Center to owning a poultry house.”
YYFA has constructed a 2000 capacity poultry house from proceeds generated from UNDP’s funded Animal Feed Processing Center supported through the Smallholder Commercialization and Agribusiness Development project-Sierra Leone (SCADeP-SL). With another set of 2000 day-old chicks imported by YYFA since March 2020, the group also hopes to start mass production and supply of ‘fresh chickens’ to the country’s national school feeding programme in Kono District which they already compliments.
YYFA vision is to produce and supply $500,000 worth of chickens annually to locals and mining companies in the districts together with managing the Animal Feed Processing Center.
“We are now calling on partners to support us with a carrier, thereby, augment monthly cost of $250 on transportation, cold rooms so that we could establish a slaughterhouse and start selling poultry meat at a competitive price by improving supply chain efficiency”-says Aiah.
In Sierra Leone, young people who represent majority of the country’s populations, are today visibly contributing as political actors, innovators, entrepreneurs, and peacebuilders.
It’s time to unleash your youthful potentials!
One lesson already learned from this example is to expose youth and provide support to youth agricultural initiatives early on, incorporating all aspects of the value chain (rather than just feed processing or farming) could potentially benefit more youth.
Amidst huge challenges meted on youth farmers by climate change and human activities, at the same time, growing demand for food and other agricultural products and services, coupled with innovative agricultural approach, presents major opportunities for youth.
UNDP’s support to youth is consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and commitments highlighted in our Country Programme Document 2020-2023.