MAKING AGRICULTURE A YOUTH ATTRACTING SECTOR: DRAWING LESSONS FROM OTHER YOUTH ATTRACTING SECTORS.


By: Ntoli Joseph Mwaipopo

Worth Noting:

  • These projections can only be attained by an agriculture that attracts youth engagement. An agriculture that I dub it a “Sexy agriculture. Unfortunately, Africa’s agriculture attract very few young people. It is slow if not failed to make young people take it as a high paying career.
  • Drawing lessons from other growing and youth attracting sectors, agriculture is not Sexy. One may agree with me that, Africa’s agriculture is less advertised as compared to other sectors, but more discussed in summits and conferences.
  • In Tanzania, unlike other sectors, agricultural sector is privileged to have a national bank (National Agriculture Development bank (TADB) responsible for financing agriculture based activities and projects. Yet it is known only few; those with keen interests in Agriculture. This means that the sector through has failed to send a good message about its beautifulness through the bank.

Africa is hoping to be the global agricultural giant. It has all reasons to hope for, including: more than 60 percent of untapped arable land; good climatic conditions and more than 65% of women and men practicing agriculture; technology advancement and the promising number of young people across it

According to United Nations (UN), Africa has the largest concentration of young people and the share of youth is expected to increase to 42% by 2030

Decades over decades, Agriculture has been an overarching agenda in Africa. Many “in and out” conferences has been done: head of states and development crusaders has brainstormed, discussed and commented, and in fact, researches shows that; first, with no doubt Agriculture is the back bone of Africa’s economy. It contribute to more than 24 percent of the total Africa’s GDP according to African Development bank

Secondly, Agriculture offer self-employment to more than 60% of men and women in Africa. Third, is in the projections or to what I call “As usual conference/summit conclusions” that Agriculture will solve youth unemployment problem to nearly all percent. This means that, if taken serious, Agriculture will employ a large percent of jobless African youth population, and have a larger contribution to Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This will save Africa from losing billions of dollars annually from importing foods.

These projections can only be attained by an agriculture that attracts youth engagement. An agriculture that I dub it a “Sexy agriculture. Unfortunately, Africa’s agriculture attract very few young people. It is slow if not failed to make young people take it as a high paying career.

Drawing lessons from other growing and youth attracting sectors, agriculture is not Sexy. One may agree with me that, Africa’s agriculture is less advertised as compared to other sectors, but more discussed in summits and conferences.

In Tanzania, unlike other sectors, agricultural sector is privileged to have a national bank (National Agriculture Development bank (TADB) responsible for financing agriculture based activities and projects. Yet it is known only few; those with keen interests in Agriculture. This means that the sector through has failed to send a good message about its beautifulness through the bank.

In contrast, sectors like tourism, environment and sports and games sectors are sexy. They are value-added sectors. They recognise, encourage and promote and support youth champions and role models as well as communicating positive messages to young people about potential opportunities and help young people to build a career out of it.

Environmental sector has attracted many youths to be environmental activist. Beautiful and handsome young people, role models and social media influencers has been tapped to be good ambassadors of environmental issues. For instance, recently, Environment programme by United Nation (UNEP) shared a video clip featured by an environment champion- a young girl

Moreover, these sectors have managed to buy airtimes in Televisions and other Medias in advertising their sector and opportunities that young people can reap out of it. One of it is Tanzania’s Safari channel which, in twenty four hours day and seven days a week, broadcast the beauty and proud of our country in terms of nature and tourist attractions. Watching the channel, I have observed first, a call to youth as tourist and, tourism ambassadors and tour guide. Second, young people making a tour guide career, being tourist and tourism ambassadors.

You may agree with me that, if you read or look on several covers of the report of agricultural projects done in rural areas of Africa-where agriculture activities lies, you may notice the image displayed on the front cover, a brightest, coloured and mesmerizing cover displaying a very health crop or plant with a picture of an old enough, weak, poor and rough dressed appearing man or woman. In visual analysis, the picture is sending a negative message that Africa’s agriculture is the world of poor and if you want to practice it, you’re entering a world of poverty. Who want that?

In contrast, the front pages of sport, music and art magazines features successful and influential personnel making the sector sexy. This attracts many young Africans. Good number of young people are now diving into music and arts industry not because they are making a lot of money, some are making very little money, if not at all,  in the industry, but still attracted to it, because it is the growing sexy industry. It’s a highly advertised industry reigning over Medias. Young people find easy recognition than in other sectors.

Many agriculture project done in Africa are dubbed “helping those in underprivileged areas- poor farmers”. Unfortunately, this “underprivileged or poor farmers” mind-set doesn’t sound good to young people, and in fact mask “high paying career status” of agriculture.

One may notice that there are so many environmental and tourism business companies raised by young Africans. They serve in humanitarian way but channelled to business by strong and attracting business models. They help young people make money and earn a living. They are open ventures supported by advancement of technologies.

As a young African, I’m also strongly moved that if taken serious, Agriculture is the redeemer of Africa: It is an unparalled weapon to fight hunger, poverty, and food security and provide a good number of employment to this and next generation.

Governments through agriculture ministries, should therefore send a good message to young people that agriculture – to be specific agribusiness is a high paying career and an open venture. Like Tanzania, they should establish national bank for agriculture. However having a bank like a building is nothing, rather through established banks, they should recognize, reach out, and finance young farmers (affordable loans and finance agri-tech start-ups) , and more importantly, publishing farmer magazines that carry testimonies and successful stories of young farmers on the beauty of Agriculture as a career. I call upon governments and agriculture stakeholders into action of making agriculture sexy and tap in more youth population.

I’m strongly convinced that agriculture sector can do the same. Recognise, reach out, encourage, promote and support young famers to demonstrate that agriculture is a highly paying career if one venture in.

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