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Agriculture still unattractive to youths in Sub-Saharan Africa

Lack of youth involvement in Agriculture is inhibiting the sector’s growth according to industry experts.  Speaking during the ongoing Digital and Technology Week, Farmer on Fire Founder and Chief Executive Officer Wangari Kuria said young people in Sub-Saharan Africa often view agriculture as inefficient and uninteresting. 

This has led to a situation where the average age of Africa’s farmers is 60  despite the median age being 19. “Young people aspire to “formal sector employment and modern urban lifestyles.” Youth don’t consider agriculture as a future in part because of a lack of access to inputs and land,” she said.

She said improved public policies, role models and better support for farmers in regards to inputs and access to markets will make the sector more appealing to the young people. 

“Parents are also to blame as they express the desire for their children to live a life better than their own, pushing them to get government jobs. In many instances, government jobs were found to be the most desirable for their stability. The trouble is that there are only so many,” Kuria added. 

According to the United Nations, access to information, lack of credit and negative perceptions around farming are the leading reasons why African young people are leaving  farming at such alarming rates.

Youth account for 60 per cent of all African unemployed, according to the World Bank.  With 200 million people aged between 15 and 24, Africa has the youngest population in the world.

By 2050, Sub-Saharan Africa will be home to a third of the world’s young people, who will play a key part in feeding future generations. 

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“Young people are usually not interested in this field of work, in large part due to their perception of farming being antiquated and unprofitable. The image of agriculture traditionally has been more about subsistence; you produce enough for you to eat. It is not seen as a business,” says the UN. 

According to Kuria, the agriculture that attracts the youth will have to be profitable, competitive, and dynamic. These are the same characteristics needed for agriculture to deliver growth, to improve food security, and to preserve a fragile natural environment. 

“With higher priority accorded to implementation of well-designed public investments in agriculture, continued progress on regulatory and policy reform, and attention to assure inclusion of young people in Africa’s agricultural renaissance, the sector’s handsome youth dividend can be collected and widely shared,” she concluded.  www.farmeronfire.com

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