Agriculture across Africa is considered as the largest employing sector, taking on over 70% of the overall workforce. The sector is highly dominated by the elderly, mainly women.And the youth, who constitute the biggest percentage of Africa’s population, have deserted the sector for purportedly “lucrative sectors”. Many youth consider agriculture as an activity for rural people or the illiterates and those who have failed to make it up in life.
Efforts have been made to bring on board men and youth in to the agricultural sector to increase production and foster food security across Africa. These efforts are however laid back, with many youth not willing to take part in agriculture.
So what exactly do we have to do to attract these youth to the agricultural sector? Here are my nine suggestions
Attitude change: Attitude is a key driver in life. The youth have an attitude towards certain aspects of life. On the business point, youth prefer to engage in some business ventures and leave others untouched for instance the agriculture sector. Many youth regard it as a profession for the poor, uneducated, failures in life and others. Attitude in all aspects contributes to 100% outcome. A positive attitude will bread a 100% success and a negative attitude will bread 100% failure. We therefore need to change the negative perception of Youth about agriculture and they in the end will yearn to take on the sector as their first source of employment after school.
Mentorship:Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. When an influential person talks to a youth, the impact that this interaction leaves in the mind of the youth is everlasting. Getting to share with successful people will inspire many youth to be creative and innovative in the various fields and sectors of the economy.
Exposure: We ought to invest in getting youth exposed to the realities of life, they need to get first-hand experience of issues, both in the economic and transformational spheres. Visiting successful Agripreneurs will open the eyes of the youth to a real world of investment and business opportunities.
Training: To embark on a journey as hard as Agripreneurship, one needs to be trained on how to travel that journey, how to control expectations, how to meet challenges and how to deal with market changes. Youth also need to be trained on how to manage resources at their disposal in order to avoid waste and loss, financial literacy to instill financial discipline in them, leadership on how to manage their workforce, how to produce and add value to the little that they have so they can earn a lot more from their venture and more so, customer care.
Ensure all time availability of agricultural inputs: For the few youth that come out to engage in the sector, we must ensure that inputs necessary for their success in the sector are readily available. These range from seeds,machines, easy access to credit facilities, where need arises, pest and insecticides. Livestock should also be available for those who are in animal rearing, poultry and other related undertakings.
Encourage collaboration between universities and farmers: Future agriculture specialists should combine agricultural expertise with hands-on experience in the field. For this reason networks between young professionals, university students and family farmers are key to assure effective exchange of information, experience and knowledge and ultimately they can be beneficial to everyone involved.
Leverage technology: Technology can also play an important role in developing youth’s skills, improving communication and access to information in rural areas.
Promote an enabling environment: The world cannot afford a future where young people have limited opportunities to access attractive and remunerative opportunities in a modern, knowledge-intensive agriculture sector. An environment where financial support is easily accessible, where market for agricultural produce is available and the political and economic environments are favorable.
Fight Climate Change:The fact that most of Africa’s farming is dependent on nature (Rain), there is need to create a conducive environment that will support the undertakings. Climate change is the general change in the earth’s climate patterns, caused by greenhouse gas emissions from burning of fossil oils, fuels and poor land use practices that cause the earth’s surface temperatures to rise.
As Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, stressed, "We will never end poverty if we don't tackle climate change." Let us therefore do all we can to eliminate Climate Change.
As Youth, it is with in our mandate to ensure an environment free from hunger and poverty by actively engaging in agriculture and valuing it as any other economic sector.