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Five Reasons Why Youth Should Choose Agriculture

Andy Shuai Liu's picture
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What type of career do you aspire to have? Do you want to be an artist, a business person, or a policymaker?
 
Or, have you ever wanted to become a farmer? I would not be surprised if you said no.
 
When weighing career choices, many young people in the developing world tend to shy away from agriculture. I, too, once found myself disenchanted by the small villages and rice fields I grew up seeing every day. As the conventional belief goes, agriculture means an archaic lifestyle and a future with limited opportunities for youth. 
 
But I later learned I was wrong. Plenty of evidence shows us that agriculture provides youth a viable way to harvest success and grow a sustainable future. In other words, I believe youth can, and should, choose agriculture. Here are five reasons:
 
1. Agriculture matters to the future of development.
 

When it comes to fighting poverty, #agriculture is more effective than other sectors. More at http://t.co/H7CQB0GUHK pic.twitter.com/t6WTnhpai7

— WB Agriculture (@WB_Agriculture) May 1, 2014
 
Agriculture is up to four times more effective than other sectors in reducing poverty. Increasingly, the world is counting on agriculture to produce more nutritious food for — and improve the livelihoods of — a booming population, especially the poor. What could be more meaningful than being part of a proven solution to such a critical challenge?
 
2. Agriculture can be a gold mine for young entrepreneurs.
 
Gourmet Products Sustainably Produced in Senegal
(Video via InfoDev of the World Bank)
 
Meet Randa Filfili, a young entrepreneur from Senegal. She is also the first Senegalese producer who saw value in the fruit of cashew trees that others had considered waste, and turned it into “niche” jam products for export. Through agribusiness, Randa has not only carved out a successful career of her own, but also helped local farmers reach global markets, and create jobs for other young people — especially women. So, the next time you come across Randa’s all-natural cashew apple butter in your local produce store, think about how you can also start up a business in agriculture to help both yourself and the rural poor. 

3. Agriculture is not cool? Think again. 
Innovations for Transparency
(Video via UNICEF Uganda)
 
In Uganda, a young team with the World Bank and UNICEF used a mobile and web-based app called “U-Report” to swiftly help 190,000 farmers save their bananas — a staple food for Ugandans — from a vicious disease. Countries like Kenya and Rwanda are also eager to boost productivity through information and communication technologies and other creative solutions. Agriculture in the developing world has become a field vibrant with effective innovations, thanks to a growing number of young techie minds that make it happen.
 
4. Agricultural research needs young brainpower.
 
Transforming Agriculture in Eastern Africa
(Video via the World Bank)
 
If you are a “young nerd” into development research, agriculture may be the right place for you. Numerous stories from East Africa and other places have shown that research revolutionizes agriculture and transforms livelihoods. Today, more than before, climate change and a growing demand for nutritious food are for fresh ideas and renewed knowledge to explore ICT in agriculture, foster climate-smart agriculture and innovate in the sector to power future growth.
 
5. The trend of youth choosing agriculture is growing.
 
 Arne Hoel / World Bank
Photo by Arne Hoel / World Bank Flickr
 
Attitudes toward agriculture are already changing. In Cameroon, where agriculture is becoming more competitive, young educated Cameroonians “have decided to become farmers, acquire land, grow maize professionally for trade, and manage their enterprises in order to earn a living,” according to Félix Nkapemin, an agricultural expert working with local farmers. Other countries like Armenia, Brazil, Malawi, and Senegal are investing in youth and agriculture with the support from the World Bank Group and other development organizations. Young people are also increasingly speaking up for themselves on why they choose agriculture.
 
The trend is growing. Support for the agriculture sector is increasing. The list of reasons is endless. This International Youth Day, I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences on why you think youth should engage in agriculture, and how it can help reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity. 

Comments

Submitted by Valentine Kataike on

The information is really educative and innovative. Great work towards nurturing the youth in to agriculture which will reduce unemployment in Uganda and the country at large.

Submitted by maureen njung'e on

I really think that agriculture is a superb field to venture into...am also going to persue agribusiness management and i hope it will open big and exciting opportunities for me in the near future.....

Submitted by Laureene on

Young people need to see live examples of other youth who made it in agriculture before they can believe what they can do,
Youth need to own this, it is one thing convincing them agriculture is not a risky sector to venture into, and it is another thing them believing it themselves
As young people, we need to own and believe that within us lies many possibilities, and the future is in your hands to own

Submitted by gianpaola pedretti on

My daughter, 18, very clever and always smartest notes at school, one day told me 'mum i want to apply best italian university for agricolture' .she is currently studying hard for admission exams. I was at first surprised as my family has no business in this field, always lived in the city, etc. But i am encouraging her as i share and agree very much with the opinion of the blogger here stated.

Submitted by Qhelile on

Agriculture as a farming business rather than development platform in Africa is gathering momentum. I think this is a positive perspective.

Agriculture (production of crops, livestock etc) and Agribusiness (value chain servicing agriculture) are rather different sectors, marked by different risk-return profiles. Agriculture is highly dependent on land, which is incredibly politicised, which in turn makes agriculture or farming unattractive especially for youth without the political connections or financial capital.

With that being said, I think agriculture has enormous potential for eradicating poverty, needs youthful energy and passionate team players. In addition to the opportunities you have raised, I think we should expand the conversation to some of the challenges that make it unattractive so that we can seek solutions and build on the momentum thats gathering.

Submitted by John Kibuuka on

Hi Andy,
thank you very much for the article. Youth need to see and read more about achieving success in Agriculture. Many youth have a negative attitude towards Agriculture. The Worldbank has the resources to drive a positive attitude towards Agric among the youth.

Submitted by Clet IYAMENYE NIBEHO on

Thanks for the good article,

Sure,it is up to us(Youth) to change our attitude and exploit many available opportunities which are present in the Agriculture sector.

I hope Agriculture is the good way that can tackle the issue of youth unemployment which is all over the world as Agriculture has shown its readiness to facilitate the youth-preneurship.

Submitted by Johnson Mutuku on

Great article! This is so true. Agriculture is a very good option of creating wealth and giving back to society both in alleviating poverty and empowering fellow youth.\

Submitted by Emman Shah on

I come from a family of farmers and now it's become a family business. I wanted to be a farmer too but in some countries this job is still based on your gender. quite sad!

Submitted by Akaninyene Simeon Ema on

Agriculture is rapid avenue for employment for the youths.Apart from economic benefit,agriculture would contribute to GDP of most african states economy and the rest of the world.In africa were there is enough land resources,young enterpreneur should be encouraged to agriculture as an untaped resource of development.The world bank,nations giving the right support and mechanism,agriculture will reduce poverty and unemployment.This is an industry either on a small scale or large scale is ever productive.

Submitted by Andy Liu on

Thank you all, for your positive feedback. As Akinwumi Adesina, Nigeria’s minister of agriculture, passionately states, youth are the “movers and shakers” who can help unlock Africa’s potential of shared prosperity. I invite you to continue the conversation on social media using #food4future, and share your idea on how youth can creatively help build a brighter and greener future through agribusiness and agriculture.

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