AGRICULTURE and youth is a compatible pair, particularly in the African context.
As one of the continent’s most critical industries and biggest sources of income – contributing a quarter of Africa’s total GDP and employing 70 percent of the labour force – agriculture has the remarkable potential to empower what will be the youngest and biggest workforce in the world by 2040.
Already half the continent’s population is under the age of 25, and 72 percent of these young people are either unemployed or vulnerable to harsh societal challenges, such as HIV/Aids and teenage pregnancy.
These astonishing statistics show no sign of diminishing either.
With over 330 million young Africans set to enter the job market in the next 20 years, only a third of that number is forecast to find jobs.
What this indicates is a growing need for workable solutions for the youth to become productive and be a part of the economic mainstream.
This is especially true for agriculture, which has the potential to create jobs across the country, and serve as a driver of growth.
However, the industry is currently lagging in building this growth, largely because of a lack of access to knowledge, skills, education and land.
Financial literacy and land issues are currently the main barriers to increasing the participation of young people in the sector.
Access to arable land is difficult to come by for the majority of young citizens, even if they are interested in pursuing a career or business options in the agricultural industry.
In Namibia, for instance, right of access to land are tightly controlled, as land is owned by the State.
The legal framework is currently not in favour of ordinary citizens.
It is heartening, however, to note that land reform options, which include privatisation, are at least being debated. Access to and use of land is being explored as a means of reducing poverty and creating opportunities for the country’s people.
Namibia is by no means the only African country facing these types of concerns surrounding land.
Land issues are typically driven by policy – or a lack thereof. In order to overcome these barriers, there is a need for policymakers to understand the intricacies of agriculture, and to respond to the need for change.
More robust and focused policies are required to bring young people into farming. It is, therefore, necessary to bring in and hone policymakers that are dedicated to promoting farming among the youth.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015