A new agreement was signed today by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva and NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency (NPCA) Chief Executive Officer Ibrahim Assane Mayaki that will enable the four countries to create and implement policies in support of enterprise development in rural areas.“This joint effort seeks to promote decent rural youth employment and entrepreneurship in agriculture and agribusiness, and it represents another important example of an African-led cooperation initiative that seeks to safeguard food security and livelihoods on the continent,” said Mr. Graziano da Silva.NEPAD’s Mr. Mayaki added that the Africa Agenda 2063, the 50-year agenda to build a prosperous and united Africa, is largely dependent upon “the transformation of rural areas supported by capacitated young entrepreneurs along the food chain.” Over the next three years, funds from the project will be used to ensure that young people, and especially women, have better access to the rural economy, which includes decent job creation in farming and non-farming sectors through public and private investments. Through the project, Benin, Cameroon, Malawi and Niger will adopt national action plans on youth employment and skills development for people in rural economic value chains. More broadly, the project seeks to foster policy dialogue among countries, regional organizations, development and resource partners. NEPAD is an economic development programme of the African Union, adopted in 2001 in Lusaka, Zambia. It aims to provide an overarching vision and policy framework for accelerating economic co-operation and integration among African countries.FAO and NEPAD’s partnership also supports the 2014 Malabo Declaration, a promise by African Union leaders to achieve certain agricultural sector goals by 2025. Among these is a commitment to improve youth employment in Africa’s rural regions by 30 percent, especially by strengthening agricultural value chains. Another is to prioritize opportunities for women and rural youth. The project launch comes just after the International Day of Rural Women, on which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the need to secure rural women’s rights and opportunities in order to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).