Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Youth in Agriculture Motivation and Government Policy

Involvement of youth in agriculture is not only a good idea but crucial for agricultural economies sustainability. Most African economies heavily depend on farming to earn foreign exchange, for employment of 70% of the population, to provide raw materials for agro-industries and for food security among the citizens. Therefore youth in agriculture campaign is necessary for succession and sustainability of the industry. It goes without saying that absence of young people in agricultural activities points to a future economic disaster for Africa and most developing countries ,confirming an African proverb which says that, ‘‘a herd without calves is headed for extinction’’. The future of the farming industry is in the hands of the young people. It is vital that young people are involved in the industry early in life.

But in reality, traditionally and economically little is done to seriously involve youth in agriculture, until later in life when most likely they have developed other priorities. In this case farming becomes a supplementary activity without its due importance. According to the African tradition inherited land is not released to the young people for farming until later in life when they get married, yet land is a principal factor of production in farming. This practice is mainly responsible for propagation of traditional subsistence farming which lacks  vision and innovation leading to low returns. Governments’ policies to encourage ownership of land by the young people should be  formulated urgently. This will enable the industry to absorb young people at the height of their talent, energy, optimism and innovativeness. Involvement of young people in farming should employ a multi-sector approach for success.
This can be achieved through integration of youth in agriculture policy with education policy, young people employment policy and the policies of all relevant government sectors. Agricultural extension services should also be modernized to embrace information and communication technologies. The traditional extension methodologies like field days are no longer effective for reaching the youth in agriculture. Use of information and communication technology will modernize and change the face of farming, improve farm income and improve food security to the communities. The information and communication technology should be used to deliver extension services, provide accurate market information and to link the youth in agriculture with consumers of their farm produce. This will give youth in agriculture comparative advantage and a superior position in the market place.