Agriculture is a source of livelihood for more than one million people living in Africa and for that reason, it is a potential solution to unemployment and food insecurity. The rapid rate of agricultural growth in Africa has opened up new investment opportunities and enhanced efforts to tackling food insecurity, unemployment, and poverty. Rising demands for agricultural food and related products has transformed the agriculture sector into more business-oriented and profitable enterprise farmers.
Employment from the agriculture sector benefits a significant number of the African population generating 25-34% of the GDP. At present, policymakers, stakeholders, and government agencies are focusing their investments on youths to increase their participation in agriculture production.
Given that youth in Africa comprise the majority workforce, incorporating them into the sector can play a key role in addressing agriculture-related challenges towards the desired outcome especially enhancing climate change adaptation and mitigation, environmental conservation and food security among others.
Streamlining policies that encourage the participation of youth in agriculture is one of the most critical and long-term initiatives that should be captured at a policy level. This involves designing programs that focus on equipping young people with agribusiness skills and incorporating this into formal educational training to enable them to apply their practical skills in income generation through farming. Increasing adoption of agriculture among the youth also calls for training in agricultural technologies, access to capital investments and harmonization of the market by players in the agriculture sector to meet the needs of young people.
In Ghana, for example, the government, through the Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), invested $150,000 in the cocoa growing zones towards revitalizing the cocoa sector and increasing youth participation by employing more than 30,000 youth in cocoa farming.
Land is a major factor in agricultural production and is increasingly facing a lot of pressure from different land users. Youth are less likely to access land especially due to the subdivision of land among a large number of siblings. It is therefore important to call for more youth to have access to land in order to have a meaningful participation in farming.
Technological innovations coupled with well-trained youth population make a significant contribution to agribusiness developments such as agricultural value additions and easy market linkages which result in numerous job opportunities for the youth such as agricultural logistics, marketing, transport, storage and distributions of farm products.
There are various programs that have been launched across the African continent in order to stimulate the participation of youth in agriculture and change their attitudes. In West Africa, Youth in Agriculture Programme (YIAP), a program targeting youth in Ghana was implemented through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in conjunction with FAO.
The youth trust funds are among initiatives which offer financial assistance to young people in agriculture.