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Aimé Kazika: "The Democratic Republic of Congo has nearly 90% of unused land”

Interviewed by Prisca Lokale

An agricultural engineer and a country representative of  the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) in the DRC, an international network of young professionals set up since 2006 for agricultural development, Aimé Kazika said, during an interview, that his country, the Democratic Republic of Congo has about 90 % of unused land.

BDC: You are an agronomist and Representative of the YPARD network in the DRC. Can you tell us about this network?

Aimé Kazika: YPARD is an international network of young professionals set up since 2006 for agricultural development. A group of young people come together to reflect on how to work towards the integration of young people in agriculture after noticing that young people were not very involved in agricultural policy issues. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, YPARD was established since 2016.

BDC: In the last two years, how many activities have you done in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

Aimé Kazika: We have done a lot of activities so far. From an organizational point of view, we develop an annual work plan at the beginning of the year. We plan a month for an advocacy activity and the following month, a field activity. This allows young people to link training to practice. We often organize training on the development of projects.

BDC: By integrating the YPARD network in 2016, what challenges did you defined for the DRC?

Aimé Kazika: When we integrated this network from Cameroon, our goal was to present the young people voices to Congolese politicians so that the issues of youth to be included in the agricultural development plan of the country. A month ago, we met with the Minister of Agriculture and talked to him about the structure, our projects and our objectives. We also sponsor young people who want to participate.

BDC: According to a geographical survey of the country, only 10% of land is developed on a total of 80 million arable hectares. How are you doing to boost agricultural development in the DRC?

Aimé Kazika: It's a reality. The Democratic Republic of Congo has nearly 90% of unused. To overcome this shortcoming, we bring together young people who have studied law, medicine, and other skills through our field of activities on a farm to learn about the integrated agriculture, how to invest in this area. At the end, they learn to appreciate and to develop more in the agriculture sector. We also use social networks to popularize our activities and attract more young people.

BDC: In 2017, during the celebration of your first birthday in the DRC, Lisette Mbakata, one of your members said that your functioning depends solely on membership fees. Today, towards a third year, how are you doing to find project funding?

Aimé Kazika: That's a true statement. Until then, our operation is still linked to the contributions of our young members. We are in the process of negotiating a partnership with the IITA (International Institute of Tropical Agriculture) and the Ministry of Agriculture through the project PEJAD (Agricultural Entrepreneurship Support Project). The current minister has facilitated the signing of a decree, and we continue to work on it.

BDC: Soon the DRC will have a new government. As an expert in agricultural development, what challenges will this government face in the agriculture sector?

Aimé Kazika: To this government, I give two proposals. The first is to revise upward the budget allocated to agriculture in the DRC which does not exceed 3% while the Maputo agreement provides for 10%. It's a very small budget. The second proposal is to integrate the Ministry of Youth into the Ministry of Entrepreneurship. In this way, we will have the Ministry of Youth and Youth Entrepreneurship. The agriculture sector can create as many jobs as any other sector.

To become a member of the network, a section "How to become a member" has been created in the website (www.ypard.net).

There is also a WhatsApp group where all the young members interact but also access the Facebook page (YPARD DRC).

Original article posted on Blog du Citoyen

Photo credit: Aimé Kazika