Agriculture traditionally played a central role in life in Africa not only providing food but helping link individuals to their communities and to the land. However, in the context of globalization and related societal changes, including rural-urban migration, fewer young people are pursuing agriculture.
At the same time, the region is becoming increasingly reliant on imported food, which has consequences for food security, health and adaptation to climate change.
Attracting young people back to agriculture is seen as a way to address high levels of youth unemployment and high reliance on imported food, as well as an opportunity to spur economic development in rural areas.
Today’s generation of young people is the largest in history. In developing countries, young people, aged 15 to 24 years old, make up on average 20 percent of the global population and represent a huge potential resource to their countries.
Yet ironically, rural areas are not benefiting fully from this resource (Globally, young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults). In fact, many rural communities are ageing rapidly precisely because, in the absence of incentives to remain, young women and men are leaving rural areas to seek employment opportunities elsewhere
Recent research conducted while compiling the regional Youth in Agriculture Strategy 2011–2015 revealed that urban youth used words like ‘embarrassment’, ‘shame’ and ‘dirty job’ when discussing why young people did not engage in agriculture in the africa.
Indeed, this viewpoint appears to be increasingly common as young people in rural areas continue to drift to urban centres in search of work and a taste of city life. Young people in rural areas are not much more positive about agriculture.
Though they commonly tend gardens belonging to their family and the community, few embrace agriculture as a prospective career.