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Home / Farmers' Kraal with Charles Tjatindi - Agri-sector could save Namibian youth

Farmers' Kraal with Charles Tjatindi - Agri-sector could save Namibian youth

2022-10-04  Charles Tjatindi

Farmers' Kraal with Charles Tjatindi - Agri-sector could save Namibian youth

It is a critical time for Namibia. With a large, growing youth population – the majority living in rural areas – and a limited amount of arable land, the world is looking to Namibia and by extension, Africa’s potential for growth and prosperity.

The continent currently has the largest youth population in Africa’s history. Africa is estimated to be home to more than 600 million young people under the age of 25. However, the majority of youth (77%) are unemployed or underemployed.

Coming back home, it is no secret that most Namibians rely on agriculture for a source of income and livelihood.  But the majority are smallholder farmers who need most of what they produce to feed themselves and their families. Also, agricultural productivity remains low and average crop yields have not increased for decades.

Given the fact that a vast majority of Namibia’s youth live in poverty and struggle to find employment, more innovative approaches to breaking such cycles of poverty are needed.

One approach to the youth unemployment crisis is engaging more young people in the agricultural sector. Greater investments in the agriculture value chain could potentially add additional jobs to the market.

This would, however, mean that the agriculture sector needs to be revamped and modernised to attract even more young people with relevant skills that would take the sector to even greater heights.

Modernising the agricultural sector in Africa is important, not only for economic growth and food security, but also for job growth. Young people have unique needs and face several barriers in finding secure employment in the sector. 

They often lack access to appropriate skills training, information (such as market and pricing information), inputs (such as seeds, fertiliser and water), technologies (such as irrigation methods, planting methods and mobile technology), land and financial services. Such areas need to be addressed.

Agriculture is an economic activity in which young people can earn a sustainable livelihood rather than just a subsistence income. Enhancing the productivity of agriculture through improved inputs, livestock vaccinations, the use of processing or refrigeration technology and access to market pricing information is also important for increased income generation.

There is, therefore, a need to drive collaboration and thinking across all sectors to develop employment programmes and policies that better serve young people in Namibia. Repeating phrases and quotes on how agriculture could eliminate hunger is a serious shortfall from the leadership. People, especially the youth, need more than that - they need tangible and practical solutions to their problems.

Such solutions should be those that are crafted with greater input from the youth themselves and not the standard top-down approach that we often tend to believe works better. It’s a fallacy; nothing works without the input of those affected. Drop the sloganeering, stop impressive speeches and talk to the youth. 

Sell the agriculture notion to them as a way out, and devise strategies together with them on how to address or redress the situation. Then go back to parliament and fight the naysayers tooth and nail to have your programmes and projects turn into laws and policies. 

Once all is said and done, perhaps we could all be putting our feet up and will be resting our overworked bodies with a jug of cool and sweet omaere by our side. Hail farming. Hail agriculture!


2022-10-04  Charles Tjatindi

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