Agriculture fuels Mauritania job growth
By Raby Ould Idoumou for Magharebia in Nouakchott – 21/03/12
An experimental programme employing 125 young Mauritanian graduates in agriculture is producing results, prompting the country's president to encourage more youths to enter the field.
In a March 13th speech, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz underlined the importance of farming in generating development for the country. He said the youths had encouraging results, restoring confidence in the strength of young people to work and earn a livelihood.
The speech came after the announcement of Mauritanian authorities last February of their intention to reclaim 20,000 hectares, 70% of which would be distributed to unemployed graduates and 30% to the local population. The original programme was launched in March 2011, with the state pledging to buy the youths' crops and encouraging businesses to support their initiative.
"Mauritania has up to 129,000 hectares of fertile land suitable for reclamation available, while not more than 30,000 hectares have been reclaimed at present," Toufiq Ould Sidi Ould Bakari, the head of the National Association of Unemployed Graduates, told Magharebia. The open land is in addition to unused water resources and thousands of unemployed graduates, he said.
"In view of these facts, the state decided to adopt a policy to combat poverty in the context of a strategy to achieve self-sufficiency in rice, which is one of the most important agricultural products consumed at the national level," he explained.
He went on to say that "the project of integrating graduates into the agricultural sector in this experiment has achieved results exceeding all expectations. In addition to the fact that the production of the group of 125 reached 5,000 tons of rice, its members gained extensive field experience in cultivating this product".
Ould Bakari noted that the project also employed 250 people in the local community, through farm assistants, guards and other duties. Furthermore, the project produced animal feed, reducing the impact of the region's drought.
"The above data for this experiment makes it enjoy great support from Mauritanian citizens through demand for purchasing this Mauritanian product as well as by higher authorities in the country," he said. "It could truly be called the agricultural revolution."
The National Association of Unemployed Graduates was founded in 2005 and obtained a license on June 14th, 2007. Today the association has 2,367 members who are unemployed graduates from different disciplines and levels.
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