In this guest post from Farming First, Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, Vice President for Country Support, Policy and Delivery at AGRA, tells the stories of many inspiring African youth who are transforming the image of farming.
Africa is the world’s youngest continent with more than half of the population under 25 years of age. Since most African countries rely on agriculture as their main source of income, involving the youth is an imperative. Experts agree that a strong involvement of Africa’s youth in rural development, agriculture and natural resources management will boost food security in the continent. However, young people remain almost invisible, which is a critical threat to food security.
Young Africans want opportunities in agri-business that other non-agriculture related businesses such as in IT, oil and gas and tourism have offered their peers. Most young people want a quick return, and they won’t be satisfied working long hours on the farm to produce just one metric ton of maize per hectare. If the output was five tons or more, then perhaps young people would get excited about a future in farming.
Using technology to transform agriculture
African youth have the power to spearhead the modernization and transformation of Africa’s agricultural sector through their interest in technological change and innovative market solutions. Agriculture is becoming a serious contender in startup circles and success is prevalent. Whether as hi-tech developers or as large-scale producers, some young Africans are starting to challenge the outdated image of agriculture.
A great example is FarmDrive, created by young innovators in Kenya, that is helping to close the large financing gap for farmers. The software helps farmers improve their record-keeping and farm performance data, enabling them to prove credit-worthiness to potential lenders, all via their mobile phones. These innovations can mobilize the energies and ambitions of young people, helping to create good jobs and reduce migration to urban areas. Those reluctant to pick up a hoe can be inspired by this new wave of tech-savvy entrepreneurs…