The Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (GFFSN) has emphasised incentives to create employment for youth in agriculture or empower young people who are already engaged in the sector.
It said young people if supported could bring much potential to agriculture and rural livelihoods.
Youth employment in agriculture can provide a solid solution to end hunger and poverty in Africa,” it said.
“By stimulating and supporting their drive for economic independence and innovation, youth will drive agricultural development. Youth employment in agriculture can provide a solid solution to end hunger and poverty in Africa,” it said.
It added that if young farmers who set up small farms of their own create employment for themselves and for others and could become entrepreneurs, it could greatly benefit local economy and food security.
The GFFSN is an online platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue on food security and nutrition under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
It allows registered users to engage in policy dialogue and knowledge sharing on food security and nutrition and also contributes to inclusiveness and innovation in policy-making.
Read:. Putting women at the centre of agric sustainability
Image problem in agric
The agriculture sector in Africa needs young people but it continues to suffer from an image problem among them.
Although they have often been exposed to agriculture in their childhood, many young people are reluctant to engage in agriculture as they see the sector as being laborious and backward, causing agriculture to be dominated by the older people of the population.
In most African countries, farming age lies between 45-70 years, such that tere is no vigorous development and continuity in the growth and development of the sector.
There are also concerns about rural services and facilities. Many youths, especially those with some skills or educational qualifications, are concerned about the quality of health clinics, distance to hospitals and quality of education in the rural areas.
Contributors to the GFNFS say there is a need for successful role models or references which attract young people to agriculture and encourage them to stay in the sector.
They also emphasise the need for appropriate and relevant training, knowledge-sharing and guidance to help young people to prepare better for opportunities in agriculture and agribusiness.
“It is important to create awareness that agriculture is not only equated to farming but also includes many opportunities for entrepreneurship, including production, processing, value addition, branding and marketing,” the forum said.
Opportunities and challenges
According to the forum, it is important to recognise that youth are a very heterogeneous group and the local conditions need to be carefully taken into account when devising any initiative aimed at facilitating their participation into agriculture and agribusiness.
Young farmers face difficulties in accessing land and capital when launching and sustaining their businesses in the early stages.
“Youth involvement can increase the sustainability of the business as they are searching the way to improve their welfare and build their financial lives,” it said.
“Challenges of agriculture requires patience, persistence and consistency which is at odds with the expectation of earning money quickly and easily in the cities. City life is more attractive for the youth of today, with technologies, transport and telecommunications being more widespread than in rural areas,” it stated.
Over 60 per cent of Africa’s estimated 1.2 billion people are under the age of 25
Most of them live in rural areas where there are few job prospects and where agriculture remains an essential driver of economic development
Young people need to be supported to add value to agriculture produce, connect to the urban market and adopt sustainable agriculture technologies
Without these linkages, agriculture cannot transcend subsistence and become attractive to young people