Our consortium, made up of SOWIT, Zalar and INRA have joined forces to spread best-in-class digital skills and agronomic practices in Morocco. This will be achieved by empowering youth through access to digital skills in agtech and lead to quality jobs in agribusiness. Through capacity building in the digital domain, we meet the aspirations of youth in terms of obtaining unique skills, earning a steady salary, and for women in particular, addressing key issues such as the gender gap in decision-making positions.
In rural Morocco, farming is usually the first job young people obtain. However, it is not considered an attractive career because it is related to hard manual fieldwork. Furthermore, the agricultural sector faces increasing production challenges due to water shortages and the need to minimize the use of agrochemicals and soil degradation.
Due to tradition and entrenched cultural norms, one of the main challenges faced by gender-conscious innovators is ensuring balanced gender inclusion is implemented. The presence of women in managerial positions is limited as a result. Therefore, female specialists and agents may face challenges when working with men, who are usually at a higher pay grade or are accustomed to interacting with male technicians, scientists or marketeers.
In remote areas, youth are negatively affected by a lack of job opportunities due to the weak private sector and limited self-employment opportunities. For example, young people are not provided adequate information on job opportunities while entrepreneurship and support programmes are lacking. One of the root causes may rest in the lack of effective capacity-building programs and exposure to the business world. Training programs reportedly fail to equip students with appropriate practical experience, relying instead on a theoretical focus.
Our project will improve and create quality jobs by training and equipping 380 youth (78% female) with digital skills and equipment which will enable them to produce, real-time, georeferenced and actionable crop husbandry information.
Our solution has a dual approach:
- At Zalar Agri, 280 trained skilled, female wage-employed agtech specialists will help optimize the agribusiness crop production systems and improve the quality of their jobs
- 100 talented youth (33% female) educated at TVETs or universities, will be supported in becoming skilled, dependent self-employed entrepreneurs who will promote SOWIT products and assist farmers in their deployment.
We will train 280 female staff and 100 self-employed agtech agents (33% female) already employed by Zalar Agri in the use of digital decision support systems. The latter would serve SOWIT clients in 8 regions and benefit from basic monthly support (100€) channelled by SOWIT during the first 12 months. Agtech agents will be equipped with a kit of agri-sensors and SOWIT apps, and trained in customer acquisition and advisory service delivery. This will enable both groups to acquire unique, highly advanced transferable skills which will improve the quality of job security and create jobs for agtech agents.
Additionally, young people will be offered expansive opportunities for self-employment in an exciting ICT-imbued professional environment. Regular relations with SOWIT headquarters’ staff will help to establish a strong relationship built on mutual trust. Performance monitoring and rewards for outstanding performances will help increase retention, especially for female agtech agents. Training will also be provided in the use of digital decision support systems, data interpretation, informed decision making, data management, custodianship and privacy issues.
CFYE technical assistance will be of value in perfecting our approach to ensure gender inclusion, especially for what concerns managerial positions at Zalar Agri. We will benefit from the expertise in the domain of Youth Empowerment, Engagement & Resilience (YEER) to assist SOWIT in improving its strategy and modalities for stimulating educated youth in starting self-employment and onboarding them to become agtech agents and progressively grow their enterprises.
Overall, in absence of CFYE support, the initiative would continue to grow but at a slower rate, with less insights on how to address GESI and YEER issues. Adding a social dimension to an initiative needs very specific expertise and has a cost. CFYE contribution to these aspects would ensure meeting the project-defined objectives in terms of job improvement and creation.