Remarks by Ambassador David Gilmour on Young Agricultural Entrepreneurs of Togo Forum – FOJEA 2017

Launching Ceremony
Forum of Young Agricultural Entrepreneurs of Togo – FOJEA 2017
Monday, November 27, 2017
Bagbe

Monsieur the Minister of Agriculture,
Monsieur the Prefet
Members of the Global Alumni Association of Togo
Young entrepreneurs
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning.

It is a great pleasure to be with you today for the launching ceremony of the Forum of Young Agricultural Entrepreneurs of Togo.  The feeling of joy and pride that drives us, my team and I, is legitimate because the ceremony of this day would not have occurred if the Togolese youth, former recipients of educational and professional from the U.S. Government exchange programs did not gather to take part in a laborious international competition.  This competition is referred to as the Alumni Engagement Innovative Funds (AEIF). AEIF

This Fund supports the initiatives that promote common values and innovative solutions to global challenges. The contest offers small grants to teams of alumni and current participants to the US Government-sponsored exchange programs for public service projects.

Ladies and gentlemen, the theme of the first edition of FOJEA “Empowerment of women agricultural entrepreneurs” backs one of the priorities of the American Mission in Togo which aims to promote economic prosperity through women empowerment.   Certainly, if the 100 participants of the 5 economic regions of Togo put together their energies and know – how and work in perfect synergy, there is no reason this meeting does not lead to a dynamic network which is fighting to reduce poverty.

With 70% of Africans dependent on agriculture for livelihoods, the sector is critical to the economy of the continent. Governments, development partners and civil society organizations all recognize the importance and potential of agriculture in building sustainable, inclusive economies. The growth of the sector is central to increasing prosperity, food security, and sustainable development.

More and more technology is playing an important role in driving this growth, through ICT solutions that can boost the productivity of both smallholder farmers and agriculture value chains.  Togo—like Benin and Burkina—needs young rural entrepreneurs equipped with new technologies to inspire, to counsel, to advise, and to help leverage their countries significant potential to use agricultural development as a means of propelling economic growth.

I applaud here the innovative mind of the forum which among other things aims to increase agricultural productivity while ensuring food security of households through the use of new business techniques I would like to congratulate the young promoters of this forum, that I hope, will exceed the frame of theory to enable participants quickly achieve the experiences and knowledge gained at the end of this meeting. As a result, I encourage you to closely work with the previous agricultural projects initiated by the Embassy, including the technology camp of Kara launched in April this year in partnership with the University of Kara.

Even though we are only at the launch phase of the forum, I already consider this step as a success.  Youth unemployment is a real problem on the continent, and projects of the kind that we are inaugurating today contribute to its reduction.

Consequently, I appeal to the other economic partners including the Government of Togo, as well as local institutions and foreign to support this initiative. Before I conclude, I extend extending my sincere compliments to the entire community of USG alumni.  Dear alumni, you are a particular group for us at the Embassy and we are proud that you understand the importance of your role in your community.    Finally, I thank the Bagbe CAPA Center for having agreed to host this meeting.  My greatest wish is a large success for the project “FOJEA” and may it contribute to the development of a large number of young agricultural entrepreneurs.

Thank you all for your kind attention.