From 20 -21 August 2018, 100s of policymakers, development partners, youth leaders, private sector players, women and youth organizations, civil society organizations, research and academia will gather in Kigali, Rwanda, for what seems to be FAO’s biggest regional conference on Youth Employment in Agriculture as a Solid Solution to Ending Hunger and Poverty in Africa: Engaging through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Entrepreneurship. As you prepare to leave your home for the conference, I have some thoughts to share with you. I hope this also guides the conference’s deliberations.
Rural young people are a great resource for local agriculture development, yet little is done to harness their potential. So, despite the huge arable land in rural areas coupled with the opportunities that the agriculture sector presents in these areas, rural young people are migrating to urban areas in pursuit of ‘unexisting’ jobs. Rural young people are the future of food security, yet around the world, few young people see a future for themselves in agriculture or rural areas.
In Ghana, there is a compelling evidence of ageing farmer population which when not addressed will threaten sustainability in agriculture production and development. The average age of a farmer in Ghana is 55 years and life expectancy averages between 55 – 60 years.
Below are the 22 things to think about:
- Rural young people are a great resource for local agriculture development and food security and must not be treated as passive participants.
- Rural young people do not perceive agriculture as a remunerative and prestigious profession.
- Rural young people do not see economic opportunities and attractive environments in rural areas.
- Opportunities, knowledge and support for value addition to agricultural production are yet to be harnessed by rural young people.
- Rural young farmers are exploited by a growing urban young agripreneurs population along the value chain or through agriculture value chain development.
- Rural young people are excluded from harnessing ICT for local agriculture development mainly because of unavailable ICT infrastructure in rural areas.
- The concept of ICT in agriculture is yet to sink down with rural young people.
- Rural young farmers cannot connect their produce to urban markets.
- Farmlands for rural young farmers are under siege by urban estate developers.
- Rural young agripreneurs are excluded from participating in international and national discussions on agriculture development.
- Indigenous agriculture knowledge is relegated and totally replaced with expensive and unsustainable new knowledge whereas both can be leverage for agriculture development.
- The focus of agriculture investors on urban farmers and commercial agriculture will destroy the prospects of rural smallholder farming and may result in food insecurity.
- Despite the arguably high penetration of mobile phones in Africa with inaccessible internet in rural communities, agriculture tech innovations must be contextualized. ICT in agriculture is not an urban concept.
- Opportunities, knowledge and support for agriculture insurance are yet to be exploited by rural young agripreneurs.
- Call for review in security for accessing investment for scale in agriculture. Total dependence on collateral is a threat to the participation of rural young agripreneurs in the sector.
- The future of work in the rural economy also depends on making rural communities as habitable as urban. Basic infrastructure development, accessible technology and availability of social amenities encourage agricultural development in rural communities.
- Urban agripreneurs local labour exploitation creates conflicts and threatens local agriculture development. Call for fair value for service.
- Conserve indigenous and sustainable good agricultural practices through local agriculture mentoring.
- School farms are safe spaces for youth. They promote agriculture entrepreneurial skills development through experiential learning.
- Prospects of a partnership between rural and urban agripreneurs are yet to be harnessed.
- Agribusiness is not an urban concept.
- Rural young people’s experience, indigenous knowledge and skills should be leverage for youth employment in agriculture.
I am the founder of School Farms, a rural community-based school feeding support program that empowers local community schools to grow their own food whilst creating a space to help students gain entrepreneurial skills and explore opportunities in Agriculture. School Farms is the flagship programme of Reach Out to Future Leaders Movement, a youth-led community-development-based nonprofit organisation in Ghana.
Thank you for allowing me to share these thoughts with you. I wish you a safe journey to Kigali, Rwanda.
Feel free to reach out to me via firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.