1/6 of the world population is suffering from chronic hunger. Without enough food, adults struggle to work and children struggle to learn. We need to increase the global food supplies by 50% to meet the expected demands in the next 20 years.
The main principles to advancing global food security include Comprehensively addressing the underlying causes of hunger and under nutrition, investing in country led plans and strengthening very strategic coordination to implement these plans. It also requires leveraging the benefits of multilateral institutions to ensure they make sustained and accountable commitment.
Young people are at the heart of the global challenges. They have a great apprehension of the environmental challenges they will inherit and are concerned about the soil, air, water, land and society which are being left to them in a poor condition. The have an overwhelming support for principles of sustainable agriculture and local food systems- with or without skills.
An understanding that changes in labor and management practices need to be made at the farm level. But even with this knowledge, more young people continue migrating from rural to urban areas and neglecting agriculture. This is due to the perception that farming is low status and does not offer good future prospects. On the other hand, education and training programmes are not readily available, inputs maybe scarce, soils of poor quality. Marketing channels are poorly developed. Lack of rural development services leads to more degradation through farming.
In the near future, young people will be the largest group of consumers - thus a potential drive in the change of our food (and other) systems. However, they do not know or have less connection with their food and its association with agriculture. It’s important to make the link between food and agriculture visible again, and help increase recognition of the role of young farmers.
Education programmes are used to teach youth about food choices, sustainability, local agriculture, nutrition, land use as well and conservation. Such programmes need to be developed from existing perceptions that youth have about farming, food production, sustainable agriculture and the contributions they are already making. Young people are already involved in many ways to take action/responsibilities. Education programme should empower them to put this into action.
There is a great opportunity in youth participation in agriculture. Their programmes should be linked to programmes that improve access to credit, extension services, and practical education about sustainable production techniques; - these help develop an enabling environment for the youth to participate in agriculture.
The question we need to ask is: what is the capacity of farming to attract and absorb young people, to provide them with fulfilling work, decent wage, and a rewarding career and livelihood? Farming is no longer a fall back option for youth. It’s a major venture. What support do they need to see this as a career option?
Young people will require being equipped with appropriate financial and business skills while at the same time empowered to access land and credit services. Youth groups’ development and support will address these two needs /support areas. Agricultural extension services need to include youth needs ad need to be incorporated into the youth groups action plans.
There is also need to reverse the negative attitude of farming embedded at an early age in schools. Policy interest in youth agriculture nexus focus exclusively on the challenge of keeping the youth in rural areas and engaging them in farming. This should however be accompanied by a thorough understanding of the following:-
- How is the demographic change affecting the availability of farmers in the future? Is de- agranianization inevitable?
- What are changing perceptions, expectation and aspirations among youth about the future in agriculture in different contexts?
- How can agriculture be made attractive as a livelihood option for future farmers in Africa
The Future Agriculture Consortium re-frames the young people – agriculture nexus and rather seeks to address the following:-
- How do the alternative framing options and narratives relate to existing policy agenda and processes and in what ways are young people being brought into these policy processes?
- What is the evidence that the agri food sector is changing in these ways and what is the implication for employment and training for young people?
- What are the experiences and perceptions of young people regarding the changes and opportunities in the agrifood sector?
Future agriculture consortium (www.future-agricultures.org )