Why Do African Youths Ignore The Potentials In Agriculture?

The question, Why do African youths ignore the potentials in Agriculture? is what James Mbuthia  from Kenya once said he dislikes. He said Africa has over 50 countries with a wide range of environmental, cultural and climatic differences. So, in some areas agriculture is practical. He suggested one would have answered by been specific with country, region and so on.

We at farmsquare are proudly an African from a developing African country, specifically Nigeria. We will use Nigeria as a reference just as Ezeji Emmanuel will put it and to follow James Mbuthia suggestions.

It’s common for the media to portray Africa as the continent where dirty black children with flies on their faces and half naked poorly dressed women barely feed their family and get through the day.

The standard of living in Nigeria is rapidly developing and the infrastructural development, technology and corporate investments when you visit some areas like Lagos state, Abuja, Anambra state etc.

So, why is the youth not taking up Agriculture as their profession?

Agriculture is still looked up on like a thing for the uneducated and lower section of people. There is a saying that goes like, if you don’t go to school you will end up like your grandfather in the farm. Meaning only those who are not worthy of anything else are meant for agriculture.

The comments by the youths from farmsquare twitter platform  below indicate to some extend that the youths are waking up gradually.

AKIN-MADE  said Agriculture is being made to seem like a hard labor. Commercial Agriculture is also being made to look like a rich man’s venture (Capital). Youths love to get rich quick these days. Etc. Too many factors.

St-Valentine Eleta said he wouldn’t exactly say “African youths are ignoring the potentials in Agriculture” right now; that on the contrary – youths are taking up Agriculture as a profession!

Historically however, our youths have tried to run as far away from agriculture, as they could.

Why? The picture that the words ‘African farmer’ bring to mind, is that of a poor, old man/woman, with a hoe on one shoulder & a cutlass in hand, bent at the waist, from decades of hard, unprofitable labour.

Children were often warned by teachers in school that if they didn’t work hard and make good grades, they’d end up becoming Farmers. You can thus, understand why over the past 5-6 decades, as more and more youths got educated, they opted for more ‘respectable’ professions.

Another reason most youths of decades past avoided Agriculture, is that most agricultural activities take place in rural areas, away from modern social amenities. Why would anybody want to remain in the village, without electricity, telecommunication facilities or good road?

Though a sizable number of educated people are entering into agriculture …it still has a very long way to go

Olamide said African youths don’t have deep knowledge on agribusiness; but the mindset of how people labor and work dirty on farms, as the only way agriculture works. Until we package/brand agriculture in Nigeria as a cooperate business, youths may not seem to be interested in its potential.

Ladokite Agric Hub  said there’s a wrong impression of what Agriculture entails, down to the University where people who never chose the course are given and then cut off marks for agriculture are the lowest

In many of our institutions, little or no practicals are done, imagine a 500 level Agronomy student that has never used a Knapsack sprayer before, he has only seen it in books

A doctor son wants to be a doctor, an engineer son wants to be an engineer but the son of a farmer just doesn’t want to become like his dad anymore. It may be because of how they see the situation of farmers those days. No offence but even educated farmers with very good production abilities are suffering because of the improper markets and middle men culture cause losses.

Mahugu Githui suggested we make reference about youths across the globe. Most African youth see their peers making money online and they simply want to emulate. He then concluded that wealth is in the soil. Farmers’ Corner responded that youths can also make money online through agribusiness that is not limited to farming by giving solutions online and you monetized?

Rurie gave a short and sharp response that finance and market/marketing is a major challenge.

‏Nzan Patrick pointed out that some of us are well trained with experience in the field but yet no capital…sometimes the “start small” line doesn’t work because it might just be another end to been trap small. So, let’s start by addressing the capital gap.

 The solutions to engaging more youths in Africa

St-Valentine Eleta  said agriculture is a multidimensional issue; the business world is not as it is always painted out to the youths. However, agricultural related organizations providing services that will enable the youths to have access to all they need will drive the change and enhance the success.

Over the last 5 years, there’s been renewed interest in agriculture, from both the public and private sectors, as people have begun to realize that our over dependence on petroleum resources is taking us downhill as a nation.

It’s Silage also pointed out that value addition, Soil testing, minimum tillage, Crop rotation, agronomy services, mixed farming, certified seeds, tissue samples testing should be adopted to boost production and income.

Ladokite Agric Hub suggested that training targeting Institutions should be looked into, catch them young method should be used, because if we must solve the issues of food security, we need to start engaging them now

Those students who are interested can attend training because they expensive and that’s what we are trying to do at the hub, we contribute money amongst ourselves to learn what school is not teaching us

Youth Agripreneurship Global Limited adviced those on the field farming to continue and not give up as it is the result of our success that will drive other youth to go into agribusiness, this will then ensure food security.

Those providing advocacy should not relent in changing mindset and talking to the government and other institutions that are concerned, those providing training should endeavour they provide adequate training that will impart knowledge and skills

Yusuf Taiwo said maybe the government aren’t doing enough. some are privileged to have a startup capital while others don’t even know how to start. He thinks there should be a body that should be setup to help people who are genuinely interested in Agriculture

Optimist wall frames and interiors strongly believe that Introduce technology to agricultural practices in Africa to make work load lighter and enhance better productivity. Hold Seminars on post-harvest handling, Secure modern Storage facilities and an international market for their produce.

Talking about technologies, Youth Agripreneurship Global Limited introduced a low-cost irrigation pump that enables all year-round production to all. Uses no fuel, keeps the environment safe, it can irrigate 2 acres of farm conveniently. You will assemble it in 5 minutes and its easy to use. See below.

Farmsquare Nigeria and Youth Agripreneurship Global Limited
Farmsquare Nigeria and Youth Agripreneurship Global Limited

The Good News

To engaging the youths in agribusiness, International Institute of Tropical Ariculture (IITA) established IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) in 2011 to change the perceptions and get more youths into agriculture. The group has enterprising young individuals coming from diverse disciplinary backgrounds aims to make young Africans see that agriculture can be an exciting and economically rewarding business venture, and convince investors to invest in Africa’s youth by showcasing their success stories.

Thanks to technology, social media and the digital world, lots of youths are now leveraging and developing interest in agriculture, and wish to find a role in the sector, either as direct participants or as investors in one Agribusiness venture or another.

Youths should know the battle of Agribusiness is not won on basis of strength or intelligence but good strategy and adequate planning. We need to be deliberate in our approach.

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