Youth in Agriculture
Agriculture in West Africa can move people out of poverty and also enhance food security yet the youth are not interested for a number of reasons. The State (from national to local levels) and private sector (input dealers, Banks, business firms etc ) together with some development institutions/ organizations like NGOs, Community Based Organizations/ Farmer Based Organizations, women groups, the Trade Unions, religious bodies and organizations etc have a role to play.
Some reasons for youth migration out of agriculture and solutions to encourage them are provided as:
- Lack of social amenities in rural areas: it seems much resource have gone into developing our cities at the expense of rural areas and this is attracting the youth to move or migrate from rural to urban centers. Developing rural areas and small towns and districts, and providing infrastructure and services like electricity, portable drinking water, good roads link to markets, health centers with qualified personnel, schools with teachers will encourage the youth to stay in the producing areas.
- Limited skills and labour intensive work: Build capacity of the young farmers and make labour reduction or energy saving devices accessible
Agriculture is not lucrative compared to other off-farm work: make agriculture lucrative through -
- Market access – ready market outlet for farmers produce, improve prices for farm produce
- Storage facilities to preserve produce and prevent post harvest losses
- Minimize post harvest losses through a number of ways
- Extension services and agriculture information support systems to enhance productivity. More women extension workers may be hired or encouraged into the system to support with reaching out to women producers (from cultural or religious perspectives)
- Various channels for extension in agriculture and nutrition could be used e.g face-to-face, exposure visits, and radio etc
- Provision of agricultural inputs (farm inputs/ implements, credit etc) to the young farmers
- Productive and secured land made available to youth through various programmes and negotiations with various authorities and bodies
- Farm management support for young farmers, and introduction of various commodities to ensure all year production of agricultural produce (poultry, fisheries and livestock production in addition to diverse crops production)
- Provide irrigation facilities to also ensure all year round production and incomes for the young farmers
- Link agriculture to nutrition to improve the status of those in producing areas
- Preservation of farm produce through value addition via links to industries, factories, agro-processing etc
- Creation of other non-farm support systems and income generating activities
- State building partnership with private sector actors and development organizations to work closely with the youth, bringing on board other marginalized groups like those with social disabilities and the excluded in society. It is also important to work wholistically through different government Ministries, Departments and Agencies in using multi-sectoral approach on diverse platforms.
Some of these when implemented may help reduce youth migration out of agriculture and producing areas.
Happy New Year to All!!!
Anna Antwi (PhD), Development Consultant