We need to do more to get the youth onto the agribusiness bandwagon. The opportunities are endless, and so is the potential of many young people to make it in agriculture.
Youth who want to engage in agriculture and agribusiness face significant barriers that discourage or prevent them from launching their business or making it economically viable.
These include limited access to knowledge, financial services, land and markets. These challenges are interdependent, as imperfect capital markets impede the acquisition of factors of production.
While market failures may in many cases constitute barriers for young agri-entrepreneurs, governments could address these and other policy related issues through a coherent and effectively implemented strategy to engage youth in agriculture and agribusiness.
It is sad that around the world, few young people see a future for themselves in agriculture or rural areas. This narrative needs to change.
On the one hand, young people are reluctant to consider agriculture as a viable livelihood option and associate it with low returns, hard work and low social status.
On the other hand, young entrepreneurs wishing to succeed in agricultural and food value chains face numerous challenges, in particular inadequate access to land, credit and markets. These challenges are multidimensional and require interventions at various levels.
Youth is the future of food security for all, yet many young people do not see a future for themselves in agriculture due to the many barriers they face. High rates of youth unemployment, especially in rural areas, require determining policy responses to stimulate inclusive economic growth.
Concerted action is now more urgent than ever, as the socio-economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic have further increased the vulnerability of young women and men around the globe.
To lure more young people to farming and agribusiness, more investment is needed in agriculture. The agriculture sector is undoubtedly a vital sector to any country as it continues to be a major contributor to many countries’ GDPs.
Despite this potential, the agricultural sector suffers from significant underinvestment.
Measures that empower youth – including young family farmers and agri-entrepreneurs – to invest in their farms and businesses along agricultural value chains should be a key component of a sustainable development-centred government strategy for enhancing investments at the country level.
There is significant evidence that empowering youth is key to achieving sustainable food security; enhancing sustainable productivity, value addition and resilience, and combating unemployment, distress migration and poverty.
Closing the agricultural generation gap requires policies and strategies that provide opportunities and perspectives to youth who want to engage in agriculture.
At the same time, too many small-scale farmers and processors still operate at subsistence or quasi-subsistence levels, with many more facing lower incomes due to changing market situations.
By harnessing their innovative potential, utilising new technologies and techniques and taking advantage of new opportunities in emerging value chains, young agri-entrepreneurs could create thriving businesses and enhance productivity and value-added to agricultural production.
At another level, enhancing youth’s participation in agriculture could increase environmentally friendly food production, as young entrepreneurs are driving innovations in the green economy.
Attracting and retaining youth in agriculture is key to reducing unemployment, distress, migration and poverty. The agri-food sector is recognised as one of the ten SDG priority sectors for investment, due to its strong potential to contribute to the eradication of poverty and hunger, as well as to the creation of sustainable growth and decent employment.
Let’s put shoulders to the wheel and act on behalf of the youth. Lip service has not served any purpose, lest we call pipe dreams and high-level empty promises progress.
The youth are the future. Let’s give it to them.