Opinions Tue, 4 Sep 2018

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Bane of rural youth in agriculture

Rural young people are a great resource for local agricultural development, yet little is done to harness their potential. So despite the huge arable land in rural areas, coupled with the opportunities that the agriculture sector presents in these areas, rural young people are migrating to urban areas in pursuit of ‘unexisting’ jobs.

Rural young people are the future of food security, yet around the world, few young people see a future for themselves in agriculture or rural areas.

In Ghana, there is compelling evidence of ageing farmer population which when not addressed, will threaten sustainability in agricultural production and development.

The average age of a farmer in Ghana is 55 years and life expectancy averages between 55 and 60 years.

Twenty-two facts

Below are the 22 things to think about:

1. Rural young people are a great resource for local agricultural development and food security and must not be treated as passive participants.

2. Rural young people do not perceive agriculture as a remunerative and prestigious profession.

3. Rural young people do not see economic opportunities and attractive environments in rural areas.

4. Opportunities, knowledge and support for value addition to agricultural production are yet to be harnessed by rural young people.

5. Rural young farmers are exploited by a growing urban young agripreneur population along the value chain or through agriculture value chain development.

6. Rural young people are excluded from harnessing information and communications technology (ICT) for local agricultural development mainly because of unavailable ICT infrastructure in rural areas.

7. The concept of ICT in agriculture is yet to sink in with rural young people.

8. Rural young farmers cannot connect their produce to urban markets.

9. Farmlands for rural young farmers are under siege by urban estate developers.

10. Rural young agripreneurs are excluded from participating in international and national discussions on agricultural development.

11. Indigenous agricultural knowledge is relegated and totally replaced with expensive and unsustainable new knowledge whereas both can be leveraged for agricultural development.

12. The focus of agriculture investors on urban farmers and commercial agriculture will destroy the prospects of rural smallholder farming and may result in food insecurity.

13. Despite the arguably high penetration of mobile phones in Africa with inaccessible internet in rural communities, agriculture tech innovations must be contextualised. ICT in agriculture is not an urban concept.

14. Opportunities, knowledge and support for agricultural insurance are yet to be exploited by rural young agripreneurs.

15. The total dependence on collateral is a threat to the participation of rural, young agripreneurs in the sector.

16. The future of work in the rural economy also depends on making rural communities as habitable as urban. Basic infrastructural development, accessible technology and the availability of social amenities encourage agricultural development in rural communities.

17. Urban agripreneurs local labour exploitation creates conflicts and threatens local agriculture development.

18. Conserve indigenous and sustainable good agricultural practices through local agriculture mentoring.

19. School farms are safe spaces for youth. They promote agricultural entrepreneurial skills development through experiential learning.

20. Prospects of a partnership between rural and urban agripreneurs are yet to be harnessed.

21. Agribusiness is not an urban concept.

22. Rural young people’s experience, indigenous knowledge and skills should be leveraged for youth employment in agriculture.

Columnist: Alfred Godwin Adjabeng

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