How Do We Attract More Young People Into Agriculture in Africa?

Agriculture in Africa
The question of how to attract more and more young people into Agriculture in Africa is becoming even more pertinent by the day.
This is because there is an obvious deficit in the population of young people actively engaged in agriculture in Africa today.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) reports that the average age of a smallholder farmer in Africa is 60 years? Given that most of the farming population in Africa are smallholder farmers, suffice it to say that the average age of a farmer in Africa is 60 years.
What a terrible risk we’re taking by leaving a task as delicate and crucial as feeding our continent to the frail and aged?
Question is: Which business in the world can thrive if the average age of its staff is 60 years? None obviously!
Our population is rising rapidly and we need more innovative technologies and skilled manpower to boost agricultural production and expand industrial value chains.
Question is: How do we get more young people into agricultural value chains from farming all the way through to processing and marketing?

Strategies for Attracting Young People into Agriculture in Africa

Below are some of the things we need to do as urgently as possible to address this shortage of youth manpower in the agricultural sector in Africa.
  • We must invest in the education of young people on modern agricultural tools and technologies. The fact is that young people are ashamed of associating themselves with agriculture because in our schools, agriculture is still being presented as one of those traditional practices done using crude instruments.
    We need to tell our young people that modern technologies exist which make agriculture cool and sexy. In addition, we need to educate young people that agriculture goes beyond crop cultivation. We must expose them to the other sexy agricultural value chains and encourage them to participate in these value chains.
  • Also, we must provide the infrastructure young people need to be successful in agriculture. Most of the times, young people are scared of venturing into agriculture because of the enormous infrastructure related challenges in the sector. If infrastructure is fixed, these fears will be allayed and more and more young people will throng the agricultural space.
  • Importantly too, we must provide young people access to cheap capital to enable them set up enterprises along the agricultural value chain. The cost of capital in Africa is too high and and nearly inaccessible to young graduates without credit history or eligible collateral. The government must therefore put in place funding mechanisms that provide grants to young people desirous of venturing into agriculture in Africa.
  • Access to markets is also very critically to promoting the profitability of agriculture and by extension encouraging young people to participate in Agriculture. We must therefore provide access to markets by developing good road networks, ports and rail infrastructure as well as airports to facilitate perishable products handling and distribution.
  • Access to processing and storage facilities will reduce post harvest losses and by extension increase profitability in agricultural commodities production. When young people are sure not to make losses in commodity production, the risk associated with agricultural businesses will reduce and more and more commercial farms will be set up as even the banks become even more willing to lend to the agricultural sector.

In Conclusion

There is no better time to make agriculture in Africa as inclusive as possible than now. With more young people in the agricultural space, innovation and enterprise will come into agriculture and productivity will remarkable increase, thus, reducing the number of people in Africa that go to bed hungry everyday.

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