Attracting, training and empowering young farmers
Five participants at a recent conference on ‘Young people, farming and food’ share their thoughts on what is needed to attract a new generation of talented young farmers and food processors. They discuss which sectors of agriculture will be most attractive and offer the rewards young people are looking for, and consider the importance of training and investment. Dr Namanga Ngongi, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, believes that providing the right agricultural opportunities to a million young Africans could transform food production on the continent.
Mahardi My name is Yasin Mahardi, I am from Kenya. I work for Camco Advisory Services Kenya Ltd. You know most of the young people they want a quick return. So they do not want to get involved in a sector which will take a long time. So it is good to try to up scale crop production and try to attract young people to join enterprises which are... Let's say for example horticultural business is one of the areas that is really coming up and young people can really get involved into horticulture which can really yield a good return.
Abubakari My name is Abdul-Halim Abubakari. I am a Lecturer at the University for Development Studies. For undergraduates who are coming to join the workforce in agriculture, mentoring programmes are very, very important and government must partner with industry to train students in such a way that their job would become relevant to the needs of agricultural industry. So African governments must ensure that resources are made available for the youth to channel their energies, their passions and their creativity in producing food that are nutritious and that can meet industry needs.
Masinga My name is Cleopatra Mbali Masinga, I am from South Africa. I believe that there is a need of investment in skills development and training, especially education, so that we can create a new breed of new environmentalists, scientists or agriculturists, people who are much more informed on current affairs of agriculture.
Kihoro My name is Esther Kihoro, working with Kenya Agricultural Research Institute. I think the government should be investing in changed perceptions of the agri food sector, especially from the primary school level up through the whole education system, from agriculture as subsistence to agriculture as a business. In addition, I also think training in new technologies and availability of varieties, availability of probably farming methods that are more modern that will reduce the costs of production are also places where probably the government can be involved in.
Ngongi I'm Namanga Ngongi, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. If you want to have young people to be in agriculture they cannot be satisfied to be producing one metric ton of maize per hectare. That cannot be something that will keep a young person excited. If it was two tons, three tons, four tons, now you are talking. To obtain 4 tons per hectare what do you need to do? You have to have good seed. You have to have access to fertiliser. You should have access to water. If we could challenge the African countries to put one million youth into farming, into agriculture on ten million hectares in the next ten years they would be capable of producing 40 million tons per year, feeding two hundred million people and they will wipe out the deficit of food in Africa. And clearly we have a dynamic pool of people who can change the face of Africa, not only agriculture but from the economic point of view. End of track.
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