MINNEOLA, Florida — Agriculture in Africa is considered the most important economic activity on the continent. The employment agriculture offers to the continent’s working population is approximately two-thirds. Approximately 11 million young Africans enter the labor force of Africa’s agricultural sector every year. At best, only a quarter of these new workers will find paying jobs over the next decade. On average, each country contributes 30-60% of gross domestic product and about 30% of the value of exports. About 6% of Africa’s total land area is occupied by arable land and land under permanent crops. Principal crops accessible include cereals and grains, legumes and fodder, beverage crops, tubers and fodder.
Overall, agriculture in Africa contributes to major continental priorities such as eradicating poverty and hunger, boosting intra-Africa trade and investments and rapid industrialization and economic diversification. However, the youth in Africa from the latest generation isn’t seeing the crucial importance of having a career in agriculture. Rather, many discard it as a viable career path and take a very negative stance against farming.
Appealing to The Youth
Responsibility for youth having agricultural knowledge commonly falls in the lap of the education system but undergoes neglect in the school curriculum, as well as underfunding at the government level. Agriculture needs to appeal to youth. Decades of lack of support becomes obvious considering that so many young Africans view agriculture as “unattractive.” Sharing the benefits of agriculture as a business renounces the mindset of agriculture being something “out of date.”
James Konde, head of farmer training and app development at the Haller Foundation in Mombasa, Kenya, mentions in an interview with IT News Africa that since 2018 he’s been involving youth and children of ages 12-20 in farming activities (youth farming projects) at a demonstration farm. This builds enthusiasm and Konde mentors them in different agricultural career paths.
Agricultural knowledge is supplemented by bringing more insight on the benefits of agriculture. Engaging young people in how profitable and productive farming is — taking advantage of and adopting the new technologies such as land credits and markets and agricultural policies and programs — can motivate them to further pursue career options in the agricultural sector.
The Haller Farmers App and Africa’s Agricultural Sector
The Haller Farmers App was developed by The Haller Foundation, a U.K.-registered charity. The Haller foundation was set up in 2004 to educate rural farmers on sustainable farming techniques to raise food production and build self-sufficient communities. Because the Haller Foundation is unable to directly support every farmer, the app teaches techniques that make a difference.
The Haller Farmers app is a piece of updated technology that could appeal to the youth in Africa as well as active African farmers. The information available on the app is simplified, environmentally friendly and free. Such information includes tips on growing local indigenous vegetables, simple ways of identifying and controlling pests and easy and affordable solutions to soil nutrition, water management and erosion control.
Additional methods for improving youth unemployment through agriculture include further investment in education, skill development and a general increase in agricultural productivity to help form new opportunities for young people in farming. Furthermore, solutions are necessary for the two barriers inhibiting youth participation in agriculture — land and finance — through developing strategies for assisting rural youth to access these two key components.
As a new generation reaches development and society itself changes its outlook on career paths, it’s important to provide appealing options. Because agriculture is an important source of national income in Africa, it needs to stay thriving. It’s important for the youth to have agricultural knowledge in addition to an interest in having a career in agriculture. With support from new technologies, education and farming activities that involve them, Africa’s youth can see an important and appealing future in agriculture.
– Thomas Williams