A seat not only at the table, the kitchen, too

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In the photo, Paul Mwale, an agronomist, talks with farmers at a harvest festival in Blantyre Lunzu EPA-Aquaid in Malawi on May 6, 2021.  Photo credit: Paul Mwale In the photo, Paul Mwale, an agronomist, talks with farmers at a harvest festival in Blantyre Lunzu EPA-Aquaid in Malawi on May 6, 2021. Photo credit: Paul Mwale

An African youth in the year of 2021 said and I quote, “jobs are scarce in Africa.” The definition of a job in this case is an office, formal dress, and at times a reflector with a matching hard hat. But in a setting like Malawi, even the government, the biggest employer, tells you that our value is in farming. They add that the future of this nation is in the hands of the youth. These, I believe, are sentiments shared by many countries in Africa.  

I believe that if we are to talk about the future of the world, the world youths should be the verb. They should be engaged from idea generation to policy making and execution. Therefore, if we are to talk about transformation of food systems, the youth need a seat at the table and the kitchen.   

The world now operates like a global village where youths from different corners of the globe are able to share ideas with just a click of a button. These platforms allow African youth to share ideas, innovation and knowledge in transforming the agriculture sector to ensure that sustainable methods are in use.  

For example, in a rural setting in Malawi, farming is generally for people above 45, who would normally  have no access to good and efficient agriculture practices. With poor access to information, such farmers stick to their traditional methods of farming and rarely embrace innovations. This means their yield is usually low.  

The global population is increasing daily. This means that pressure is being exerted on the fading environment to produce food. For a more sustainable future, this means innovative, efficient and effective methods of food production should be employed.   

The youth should also be at the forefront to ensure that consumption patterns are adjusted in the ways that guarantee a healthy population. The patterns should also match the resources that the environment can provide.  

Engaging the youth in food systems should be initiated at an early age.  Currently, a picture of a farmer is that of an uneducated person in a rural setting. Ask an African child today who he or she wants to be in the future, and I bet that they wouldn’t say a farmer, as Mr. Mchikumbe in my textbook. Hence, the school curriculum should be redesigned to challenge youths to consider agriculture as a career path and a sector to invest in.  

In summary, transforming food systems is a double-edged sword, if youths are involved. Not only it is ensuring food production and guaranteeing a healthy population of the planet, it will also create opportunities for the unemployed youths. According to the World Bank’s report Growing Africa: Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness, Africa’s farmers and agribusiness have the potential of creating a trillion-dollar market by 2030 if more resources and innovative ways of farming are applied.  


Brian Kalimbuka

Environmentalist and part-time lecturer

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