Many young people refuse to follow their parent’s footsteps, when it comes to joining farming. Most of them have negative perceptions about the family profession after seeing the dim prospects a farming livelihood has offered their parents. Concern is growing that not enough is being done to engage Africa’s youth – its largest workforce – in food production.
You will hear many of them say “I will go to the city and try and find work. I don’t know what I will do but I want to find a job that pays more money so I can live a good life,”
Also farming is losing the young who want to be connected and communicate via phones and the Internet as these needs are not met in many villages. Poor financial returns and unspectacular prospects of Africa’s rural economy are spurring young people to leave the fields and migrate to urban centers.
Though so much is being said in conferences, concern is growing that not enough is being done to engage Africa’s largest workforce – its youth – in food production as they are key to safeguarding food security on the continent, eliminating hunger and accessing global food markets.
There is not enough motivation for young people to participate in agriculture in African countries. The young farmers need good prices for food products; otherwise they will run to the cities to look for white collar jobs labeled to be paying more “why should they do the hard work and stay poor”.
We have to try and reverse the rural mentality that says farming is a last option, to prevent this loss of labour. We need to look at how to improve the financial prospects of those who work in the agricultural sector.
“Electrification is a key need for Africa’s rural economy. Modern agricultural production is not possible without reliable access to power. We will also lose the young who want to be connected and communicate via phones and the Internet if these needs are not met,” he told IPS.
Greater investment in African agriculture seemed possible when African leaders met in Maputo, Mozambique in 2003 to commit a minimum of 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture and to lifting agricultural growth to six percent of GDP per annum by 2008. However, of Africa’s 54 countries, only nine – Ghana, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Mali, Ethiopia, Niger, Senegal, Cape Verde and Guinea – managed to uphold these commitments.
Empty words won’t feed empty stomachs. African governments must follow through on their promises and provide more money for agriculture and ensure it is better targeted to help the millions of smallholder farmers who make up most of their citizens and produce most of Africa’s food.
The potential for the lucrative engagement of Africa’s youth in agriculture should be within grasp. Africa boasts over 50 percent of the world’s fertile and unused land, while foreign investment in African agriculture is expected to exceed 45 billion dollars in 2020, according to World Bank statistics.
However, Africa’s youth are yet to feel the pull of any new “agricultural resurgence” on the continent.