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My Entry for the iHav Conference

Mon, 13 May 2013 Source: Dzidula, Akaho Felix

: AFRICA'S YOUTH, AGRICULTURE AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP

The African youth is anyone who is between childhood and adulthood who is of African descent. Agriculture basically is the growing of crops, rearing of animals for man’s use. Entrepreneurship identifies or describes someone who organizes a business venture and assumes the risk for its failure or success. The agriculture sector as stipulated by the World Bank employs sixty-five percent of the continents labor force and the sector alone account for thirty percent of the continents gross domestic product. One striking revelation is that, the sector has been identified as an essential component for the development of Sub-Saharan Africa, and her subsequent attainment of the Millennium Development goals in the year 2015. If this revelation is anything to go by, then it is no wrong to say that the needed measures must be put in place to strengthen the sector in the sub-region. But in doing so, mechanisms must be put in place to ensure that obstacles that have in a way barricaded the efforts of successive governments, stakeholders and individuals to enhance the growth of the sector in the past be forestalled. Such mechanisms can be by way of charting a course that would eventually lead to a re-orientation of the continents mindset towards agricultural activities, instituting policies that sees to agricultural development, investing heavily into research activities, budgetary allocations that would see to training of experts and building strong institutions cum mounting of agribusiness related courses in that would see to the development of the needed experts.

Though the sector as said accounts for the greatest percentage of employment in the continent, and has the potential to transform the economy of the Sub-Saharan region,the youth which to a large extent forms a greater portion of labor unfortunate has developed an apathetic mindset towards the sector, hence the lack of interest in the sector’s activities. The youth in this aspect of the globe so much of a sort takes much interest in landing “highly esteemed” non existent white collar jobs. Ironically, a chunk of the students studying various agricultural related courses in our universities in long run earns diverting into other sectors. Why? The mindset from the beginning have been that, the sector is a reserve for the poor in our the community. So until the youth experience the needed paradigm shift in mind, the sector though would account for such huge percentage in terms of employment in the continent but would not see the needed development.

Stakeholders and individuals should partner government to create a common platform for the development of agribusiness-entrepreneurs. Such platforms should be made in a way that it would provide and make possible the coming together of certain individuals who have made strides in the area of agriculture, agribusiness, entrepreneurship with students in various institutions that are majoring in courses related to the development of agriculture. Such forums in the long run would provide the opportunity for people who of a sort are liked minded confer by sharing experiences, training and the establishments of a broad network for future engagements. This network should allow for the establishment of agricultural based fraternities on campuses with agricultural experts, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders entrusted with the duty of supervising the progress of these students, and acting as mentors. The eventuality of such an undertaking would be the direct partnership with these students after completion of their courses.

There should also be room enough for farmer-student engagement. Whatever be the case, the student youth who is taking study in any agricultural related course, though might be exposed to changing trends in the sector can never much the expertise of the farmer who has been in the profession for some considerable number of years. Because the farmer for a fact has been much exposed to the practical aspect of activities. This engagement between the farmer and the student would afford the each the opportunity to learn from each other. It would equally expose the student to the reality side of the theories gone through within the confinement of their lecture halls, either than it forever remaining mere methods. African countries should by way of policies, develop modules that would lead to the training of the uneducated aspect of the youth population. This module should be open and very attractive. It should include incentives like insurance, loans that are interest free for a stipulated period, special award schemes and scholarship for the education the children of such people among others. Such an initiative would not allure such persons into the sector but would go a long way to tackle the canker of rural-urban migration, unemployment, food insecurity among a host of other problems. Financial institutions should institute loan schemes with flexible paying schemes. Such schemes should create a situation whereby the interest charged would come with an automatically created account that would insure against contingency needs. These institutions together with government and other stakeholders can equally run a major partnership that would see to the creation of a “national farm” which would come with various compartments like buffer stock industries, composite plants, poultry, a research department, among others. The various compartments as mentioned should be opened up to employment for only natives of the African region. A major contribution that can come with such an initiative is the production of fertilizers and other agro based chemicals internally, a phenomenon which would allow us to turn our waste components to our benefits and help fight the dirts that have engulfed us.

The entrepreneurial aspect would come into play when the youth is allowed to on their own with little or no supervision identified special investment ventures, draw comprehensive business proposals and effectually tender such proposals for the needed support. Local industries should as part of their corporate social responsibilities create a platform where they would periodically invite such proposals, screen them and identify the most innovative and comprehensive ones to give the needed financial backing. The continent should equally encourage a continental blueprint that would create an inter-country youth entrepreneurial platform where, youth leaders, entrepreneurs and national leaders would periodically meet to dialogue and exchange ideas on issues that are peculiar to each nation's youth development. The African Youth just like their counterparts across the globe are faced with major challenges that do not argue well for their development but with the appropriate measures like those elaborated on above put into its proper perspective, we would not only be solving the core problems bordering the youth, but it would be a course to ensure the total independence of the continent in the next foreseeable future.

AKAHO FELIX DZIDULA

GHANA INSTITUTE OF JOURNALISM

felixscorner.blogspot.com

Columnist: Dzidula, Akaho Felix