Published on Jobs and Development

Youth-led solutions during COVID-19: The food crisis

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Local farmers in Kenya. Photo: © Ujuzi Kilimo Solutions Local farmers in Kenya. Photo: © Ujuzi Kilimo Solutions

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic unfolds, disruptions in domestic food supply chains and other shocks affecting food production have created food security risks in many countries. The latest estimates by the UN’s World Food Programme show that 265 million people could be on the brink of starvation by the end of 2020 around the world almost doubling from 135 million people before the pandemic. This food crisis will also impact the health and economic opportunities of many youth if nutrition needs are not met.

Members of the World Bank-supported S4YE Youth Advisory Group (YAG) have stepped up to help manage the food crisis in their respective local communities. Here are a few of their stories.


Mobilizing farmers in the Philippines

A person sitting at a table  Description automatically generatedCherrie Atilano is the founder and CEO of AGREA Philippines. Prior to the pandemic, AGREA provided training in agricultural entrepreneurship to farmers and sustainability services such as solar power to businesses.

When the lockdown started in the Philippines, many rural farmers were cut off from travelling their commercial routes and forced to dispose of enormous amounts of edible produce. AGREA saw an opportunity to reduce food waste by providing an alternative avenue for farmers to sell their fruit and vegetables. The team mobilized with local private truck owners and youth food producers through the #MoveFoodInitiative to help ship food from local farmers to consumers in other villages, towns, and the capital. Consumers can check the list of produce and prices online on the Move Food Initiative Order Form.

By June 1st, the Move Food Initiative had helped over 7,400 Filipino farmers reach over 51,300 families with nearly 160,000kg of fruit and vegetables. In addition, AGREA has donated food to eight local kitchens, which have been arranged to feed frontline medical staff who are treating people with coronavirus.”




Taking businesses virtual in Benin

ImageAnother YAG member involved in helping local producers is Vital Sounouvou, founder of the Exportunity Group in Benin. The company’s Trade Management Platform allows major Sub-Saharan African producers and wholesalers of goods and raw commodities to trade online.

Since the pandemic began, Exportunity has shifted its platform to help small businesses by showing local buyers where they can purchase local supplies affordably online. The platform allows local producers and wholesalers of goods and raw commodities to trade with customers. Consumers are then given the option to pay directly using mobile payment, credit card, or blockchain platforms.

Harnessing agricultural data in Kenya

A person standing next to a palm tree  Description automatically generatedBrian Bosire is the founder and CEO of Ujuzi Kilimo Solutions in Kenya. The organization’s mission is to use data to fight food poverty. Through their Farm Suite digital platform, they provide agricultural data to smallholder farmers so they can make informed data-driven decisions. Ujuzi Kilimo Solutions utilizes sensors to capture soil quality data, which is then stored digitally on the Farm Suite database. The platform generates timely insights that local farmers can access on their phone via the platform’s interactive SMS system.


A local farmer utilizing the Ujuzi Kilimo sensors to collect data.
A local farmer utilizing the Ujuzi Kilimo sensors to collect data.

The agricultural sector needs immediate and medium-term support to deal with the impact of COVID-19. It is encouraging to see these young people across the globe leading the fight and stepping up to help their communities. 

This is the first blog of the S4YE Youth Advisory Group COVID-19 Blog Series. The next blog in the series will talk about two young people who are promoting youth entrepreneurship during the pandemic.


Kavell Joseph

Consultant, Latin America and the Caribbean Gender Innovation Lab, Poverty and Equity Global Practice

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