1. Experience as a Youth in the Agriculture Sector
How would you describe your experience as an Africa youth engaged in the agriculture sector in your country? What motivated you to engage into the agriculture sector?
- I would describe my experience as both exciting and challenging. Exciting because I have always had a passion for agriculture. Though raised up in an urban area, my parents owned a farm and we always grew our own maize for our staple food, nshima. This motivated me to develop interest in agriculture, such that when I went to the University of Zambia, I chose to do Agricultural Economics, a decision I will never regret! I can simply say, I love working in the agriculture sector.
- However, my experience working as a young economist has been challenging/troubling so to say, in the sense that I notice lack of cohesion between experts and policy makers in driving the agriculture agenda forward. I have noticed here in Zambia, that experts make sound proposals, elaborate findings, for example, the Indaba Agriculture Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) in Zambia is a premier agriculture research institute but most of its work and recommendations are rarely if at all being adopted or considered by policy markers. That has been a source of worry as a young professional. I am of the view that we need to close this gap if Africa is to develop it's agriculture sector and create employment for the youths. R&D outputs ought to be appreciated in policy formulation.
2. Major Achievements and Success Stories
What have been your major achievements? Do you have any experience or innovative ways that have helped you in your work that you would want to share? Do you have a success story – either your own or any other that you are aware of - of youth engaged in agriculture in your country? What is the story?
- Major achievement for me is developing the Farmers Market Zambia, an online trading portal linking farmers and buyers/traders (www.farmersmarketzambia.com). This was motivated upon noticing the lack of appreciation for R&D, I then decided to move away from simply working in research and use the findings from research to develop something tangible. I am happy to state that after presenting the initiative to government, the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry (MCTI) has since endorsed the project, and they have so far been organising stakeholders meeting to discuss the implementation of our project, and they have also been recommending us to donors for possible funding. Many other stakeholders such ILO, SIDA have also shown interest in the project and we are happy that colleagues from ILO recommended us for this Kigali Conference!
- Farmers Market Zambia is a registered non-profit organisation whose main objective is to improve the Agriculture Value Chain Information System in Zambia, by using advances in ICTs. With this platform, we hope to address challenges of market failure, poor market price discoveries and poor market/business linkages especially for small holder farmers and farmers on the government's e-voucher system by providing a One-Stop Online Agriculture Market Centre.
- This initiative upon full operationalisation will create 26 jobs for full time youths, with numerous employments for youths who will participate in the agriculture value chain thanks to this ICT based market system that will allow them to work as traders, suppliers or indeed as producers-knowing they can use the platform to find markets. And we hope the many youths in the region will also benefit from this platform.
3. What the Rwanda Youth Conference Should Address
If given an opportunity, what question would you ask the experts at the Rwanda Youth conference on each of the three sub-themes – a). Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship, b). Digital Innovation to Overcome Agriculture Value-Chain Constraints, and c). Future of Work in Rural Economy - of the conference?
- What can be done to help policy makers appreciate work of agriculture experts especially those engaged in research? Huge amounts of money is been spent to gather data by the research institutions but little seems to be done regarding recommendations from there. Are there deliberate policies/frameworks that can be developed so that research papers/findings do not simply gather dust? How else can we create employment for youths if policy makers are turning a blind eye to findings from research works?
- Cyber crime is a threat to use of ICT in agriculture. How can/will Africa combat cyber crime in order to use ICT initiatives to help us overcome agriculture value chain constraints?
- The biggest constraint for developing rural economies in Africa is high levels of illiteracy. How can the various stakeholders help to overcome this challenge of high levels of illiteracy in rural areas in order to achieve development of rural economies? In other words, how can we make advances in ICT be appreciated in rural agriculture economies?
Farmers Market Zambia.