Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Youth Approach in Agriculture

As the farming population ages and conditions in urban areas become unfavorable for the youths, there is need for a generational revolution in agriculture in order to attract the youth in this sector. There is need to encourage entrepreneurship, formation of youth groups and clubs in rural areas and clubs in schools working on agricultural related activities in order to stimulate interest of the youths in farming. By exposing young people to innovative agricultural practices including the use of information communication technologies (ICTs), we will raise a generation of farmers that will be more willing to use ICT to create and utilize extension information and improve market access.

We really want the youths to actively engage in agriculture but they have been disenfranchised with regards to land ownership issues.  In the African context, land is owned by the old man who is only willing to pass it over to his children on his deathbed. This way, the youths don’t feel part of agriculture as they have little say if any on the type of agricultural practices to employ and how to manage the land. We (as a country) really need to rethink this and see how we can involve the youths in land ownership – this will take the policy makers and parents will to bring this paradigm shift.

It is tragic that the older generations cling to the lucrative positions in the agricultural sector hiding behind the cliché that the youths are leaders of tomorrow. This is mean of them as it leaves the youths to work as casual laborers in the sector and thus the negative perception of agriculture as a dirty job. It is also unfortunate that there is a new motto, kazi kwa vijana, pesa kwa wazee (which simply translates to jobs for the youths, and money for the older generation.) doing rounds. This shows the place of a youth in the sector and it is not encouraging at all, youths should be allowed to participate in all the stages of agricultural value chains ranging from production to processing and most importantly, reaping the profits. It is only them that the youth will start appreciating agriculture and start seeing it as source of income and a venture worth investing in.

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