Youth and Agriculture


Youth and Agriculture

So during my daily research on agriculture I stumbled across this pretty cool website which I bookmarked: A lot of interesting articles and I thought I’d share one of it with yall. It was titled Making Agriculture attractive to the youth in Africa. This topic is really hot, there are a lot of conversations going on around the issue of aging farmers and very little interest of youths in agriculture. It is worth mentioning that this challenge is not unique to Africa.

There are some statements you read and you are like….YUP! Totally agree…for example

They wrote and I quote ‘Agriculture won’t be attractive to young people unless it helps them earn GOOD money” ….as my friend will say REAL TALK! So in my own humble opinion what our discussions need to focus on is how do we make agriculture profitable so the youth can flood into the sector 🙂

According to the article African leaders should seriously consider making small-scale farming the centre of transforming the continent’s agriculture. They site Asia as an example. Japan and South Korea were predominantly smallholder farming societies about 60 years ago but small holder farmers increased their productivity and incomes through agricultural research breakthroughs, benefits from new technologies, extension services to farmers good policies and public investments in infrastructure, thereby supporting demand for non-farm businesses and growth of employment opportunities off the farm. Over time, most smallholder farmers eventually moved into these non-farm jobs.

Sixty per cent of Africa’s population is under the age of 25, and over 350 million young people will be entering the labour force between now and 2035. Even under the most optimistic projections, non-farm wage jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa will be able to absorb only half of the additional 350 million workers. This means that for at least the next several decades, agriculture will be called upon to provide gainful employment for at least a third of young Africans entering the labour force.

Threats to small-scale farming

  • The need for arable land keeps rising rapidly to accommodate profitable family farming. However, a set of studies show that large-scale foreign investors have acquired 10 to 20 per cent of the region’s potentially available cropland. An even greater amount of land has been acquired by medium-scale domestic investors, many of whom are relatively wealthy urbanites.
  • 80 per cent of Africa’s remaining arable land is highly concentrated in just a few countries, many of which are fragile states. Roughly, a third of the region’s surplus land is currently under forest cover. The conversion of forests to cropland would entail major global environmental costs.
  • Some commentators have concluded that because economic development is generally associated with the labour force’s transition from farming to non-farm practices, African leaders should expedite the process by giving up on the ‘romanticised’ vision of smallholder agriculture and favour commercialised large-scale agriculture.

Why small holders need support

  • Research shows that even in 2014, most African countries are inhabited mainly by unskilled and semi-skilled rural people who are primarily engaged in farming.
  • If increasingly populous rural communities were unable to access new land because of increased competition for it from local elites and outside interests, then it is likely that urban squalor and unemployment will be further intensified.
  • Africa’s transformation from a primarily semi-subsistence, small-scale agrarian economy to a more diversified and productive economy will still require unwavering support for relatively small-scale farmers. This way, small-scale farmers will be able to participate in and contribute to the region’s economic transition rather than be marginalised by it.
  • There is no doubt that migration from farm to non-farm sectors, and from rural to urban areas will provide the brightest prospects for transforming and modernising Africa’s economies. However, it will happen only as fast as educational advances and growth in the non-farm job opportunities will allow, which in turn depend on income growth among the millions of families still engaged in smallholder agriculture

It is, therefore, in African leaders’ interests to invest in agricultural research and development to make small farms more productive and profitable and to protect the land rights of rural communities. The availability of land for expansion of family farming, combined with the pattern of public investments and enabling policies — will determine whether a high proportion of young Africans are gainfully employed in agriculture or join the ranks of the jobless.

Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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