When it comes to choosing careers, many young people in the developing world tend to shy away from agriculture. Therefore, engaging youth in agriculture has been a prominent topic and has risen up the development agenda, as there is a growing concern worldwide that young people have become disenchanted with agriculture.
But despite these misgivings, there are opportunities in studying agriculture. The thrill of producing your own food, breeding livestock to your own standard and making, or simply watching your produce grow offer more than just cash in your pocket. It offers a sense of relief; a sense of accomplishment not easily found in other occupations.
Fortunately, the trend has been growing locally as more young people are gladly taking on agriculture. For those still sitting on the fence on this issue, or being a little indecisive, allow me to attempt revealing the hidden treasures of studying agriculture.
For starters, agricultural research needs young brainpower. Today, more than before, climate change and a growing demand for nutritious food are for fresh ideas and renewed knowledge to explore ICT in agriculture, foster climate-smart agriculture and innovate in the sector to power future growth.
Agriculture has now become a field vibrant with effective innovations, especially in the developing world thanks to a growing number of young techie minds that make it happen. And the opportunities remain endless for these young go-getters.
Africa has enough land resources, as such young entrepreneurs should be encouraged to take up agriculture as an untapped resource of development.
Rural youth are the future of food security. Yet around the world, few young people see a future for themselves in agriculture or rural areas. Rural youth face many hurdles in trying to earn a livelihood.
Pressure on arable land is high in many parts of the world, making it difficult to start a farm. Youth often also lack access to credit, and many other productive resources necessary for agriculture.
But even if such hurdles can be overcome, isn’t urban life much cooler? Perhaps, but not if you cannot make a living there. Particularly in developing countries, rural youth find themselves in such a bind.
While most of the world’s food is produced by (ageing) smallholder farmers in developing countries, older farmers are less likely to adopt the new technologies needed to sustainably increase agricultural productivity, and ultimately feed the growing world population while protecting the environment.
Hence, we need to re-engage youth in agriculture.
When it comes to fighting poverty, agriculture is more effective than other sectors, another reason to take it up, if changing the scope of development is your thing. Research has shown that agriculture is up to four times more effective than other sectors in reducing poverty. And, its risks are not as high as many other sectors.
One would however understand why the youth is hesitant in taking the leap of faith into agriculture. While there are numerous benefits in the sector, it is not all a rosy affair.
For instance, agriculture is highly dependent on land, which is incredibly politicised, which in turn makes agriculture or farming unattractive especially for youth without political connections or financial capital.
Simply put, agriculture has great potential, and so do you. Take it up and it will be one of the best things you ever did.