HOW TO ENGAGE YOUTH IN AGRICULTURE FOR A BETTER TOMORROW
Youth can be engaged in Agriculture in different ways, Add emphasis in Agriculture in secondary schools, show the good results in agriculture, always have many apps linked to Agriculture available to young social media users, use ICT extensively for training and knowledge sharing, Agriculture should be a must and on Curriculum in schools, Land leasing for the youth should be supported and also to make Agriculture and farming in general very profitable.
Relatively few students choose to study agriculture, perhaps in part because the quality of agricultural training is mixed. Taught materials need to be linked to advances in technology, facilitate innovation and have greater relevance to a diverse and evolving agricultural sector, with a focus on agribusiness and entrepreneurship. Beyond technical skills, building capacity for management, decision-making, communication and leadership should also be central to higher education. Reforms to agricultural tertiary education should be designed for young people and as such the process requires their direct engagement.
Improve Agriculture's Image Farming is rarely portrayed in the media as a young person’s game and can be seen as outdated, unprofitable and hard work. Greater awareness of the benefits of agriculture as a career needs to be built amongst young people, in particular opportunities for greater market engagement, innovation and farming as a business. The media, ICT and social media can all be used to help better agriculture’s image across a broad audience and allow for sharing of information and experiences between young people and young farmers.
Connect social media to agriculture
The rise of social media and its attraction among young people with access to the appropriate technologies could be a route into agriculture if the two could be linked in some way. Mobile phone use in Africa is growing rapidly and people are now much more connected to sources of information and each other. Utilising these channels to promote agriculture and educate young people could go a long way in engaging new groups of people into the sector.
Not only can ICT be used to educate and train those unable to attend higher education institutions but it can be used as a tool to help young people spread knowledge, build networks, and find employment. Catering to a technologically savvy generation will require technological solutions. Such technologies can also reduce the costs of business transactions, increasing agriculture’s profitability.
Put agriculture on the school curricula
Primary and secondary school education in Uganda could include modules on farming, from growing to marketing crops. This could help young people see agriculture as a potential career. Farm Africa run a project aiming to help school children discover more about agriculture as a profession.
Facilitate access to land and credit
Land is often scarce and difficult to access for young people, and without collateral getting credit to buy land is nigh on impossible. Innovative financing for agriculture and small businesses is needed. For example soft loans provided to youth who come up with innovative proposals in agriculture or microfranchising.
Young people may see agriculture as a sector much neglected by the government, giving farming the image of being old fashioned. Investment in agriculture is more effective at reducing poverty than investment in any other sector but public expenditure on agriculture remains low. Regional and continent-wide programmes such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) may go some way in transforming the prominence and reputation of agriculture in Africa but national efforts and public investments are also needed.
Make Agriculture more profitable - This is an easy statement to make but a difficult one to realise. Low yields and market failures in Africa reduce the potential of agriculture to be profitable and to provide people with a chance of escaping poverty and improving their quality of life. Making agriculture profitable requires that the costs of farming and doing business are reduced while at the same time productivity increases. Although large-scale commercial farming springs to mind, this is not necessarily the case, and small farms can be highly productive with low labour costs.
Of course all of these solutions come with their own hurdles: access to education and technologies, rural development, land rights etc. But as one article states “Africa has the highest number of youth in the whole world, and some of the most fertile soils – the two combined could be a force to promote agricultural development!“ Foregoing engaging youth in agriculture and the potential for transformation this could bring because of the complexities of modernising agriculture would be a huge opportunity lost.
By Mujuni Titus