Young people are skeptical about agriculture, despite the fact that the sector could provide employment as well as feed the continent and the rest of the world.
Youth unemployment is one of the most pressing issues affecting youth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Global population continues to increase. By 2050 it is estimated to stand at 9 billion with youth aged 15-24 averaging at 14 percent of this sum.
Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) estimates that employment and entrepreneurial opportunities will, however, remain limited.
World’s food basket is maintained by aging smallholder farmers in developing countries, despite the large numbers of unemployed youth. The aging generation is not likely to adopt and use new technologies needed to increase productivity and feed the growing population.
In Kenya for example, evidence shows that the number of young people engaging in agriculture is declining. This is a cause for alarm as the general population is increasing and could contribute to food insecurity and economic stagnation for the nation.
Though the number is declining a few young Africans are investing in agribusiness as a means to sustain their lives and those of other people in the community. But Africa’s youth are facing a suit of challenges as they take part in the sector. They include:
Availability of land is fundamental when it comes to farming. Young people often find it difficult to attain land, and even those who can, it is majorly a small chunk owned by their parents (fathers) and has to be shared among the rest of the family members. For young women, the challenge is double, as most customary laws prohibit women from inheriting land.
Thus, even with high sensitization, farming remains a great challenge to young people, who have limited or no land.
Generally, there is limited to no information and education on agriculture and agribusiness. This in turn hinders the development of entrepreneurial ventures, like farming. To change the perception of young people, ready and available information should be provided in schools, libraries and at local municipalities. Additionally, an International Peer-reviewed Journal- Journal of Culture, Society and Development- calls on such information to be relayed in languages and grammar that is best understood by the youth.
Access to financial services
For young people who desire to practice farming and are knowledgeable on the subject, access to financial services keeps them away from the venture. Most young people do not possess collateral and lack adequate financial knowledge, which deters them from acquiring financial support.
Hence, financial institutions and like-minded organizations should promote solutions geared towards empowering young people to access credit, savings, insurance as well as start-up funding.
There is nothing as disheartening as having farm produce that is going into waste due to poor access to markets. This can deter youth from engaging further in the sector. International influence of supermarkets and the rigorous standards of their supply chain make it difficult for young people to access markets. In some cultures, women face even greater challenges as their freedom of movement is sometimes limited by the norms.
Young people should thus be equipped with adequate information on access to markets and marketing strategies. Facilitating their involvement in cooperatives and groups can be similarly beneficial in this regard.
Young people’s voice is often not considered when it comes to policy making. For this reason, their needs are not addressed. Local policy makers must consider engaging youth in decision making.
Addressing some of these challenges could encourage more young people to venture into agriculture and agribusiness, a move that will have a ripple effect on Africa's economy.
Cover image credit: Dasan Bobo/World Bank
Second image credit: CGIAR climate on Flickr
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