Wednesday August 20 2014

The best bet on improving our agriculture is the youth

By Michael J. Ssali

As Uganda joined other countries to mark International Youth Day last week, I kept reflecting about the statement made by Kanayo F Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad), early this month. It was about the US-African Leaders Summit and its theme, Investing in the next generation.

He said, “At Ifad, we know from experience that young people are the most precious resource a rural community can have. Today, however, many rural areas in Africa are losing their young people because there are often so few incentives for them to stay.

When young rural women and men cannot get an adequate education, make a living or create a secure home, they move to sprawling cities or to foreign countries that they believe, offer more hope.

Some make good and contribute to their communities by sending money home. Too many others become mired in urban poverty. This is a tremendous loss for their families and their nations.”
His was a call upon African countries to invest in providing agricultural skills to the youth.
“If we are serious about investing in the next generation during this AU Year of Agriculture and Food Security, we must recognise that increased support for agricultural and rural development is essential.”

For a long time, there has been an unseen need to overhaul our education system so it helps the youths fit into their communities and make a positive contribution.

Agriculture engages about 70 per cent of the labour force and is the mainstay of the economy.
Then why do we not put our money where our mouth is by investing more in agricultural education?
It is the kind of knowledge and skills that schools provide that drive our youth out of the communities in which they should live and develop for higher agricultural production and economic growth.
Apart from agriculture becoming a compulsory subject at every level of education, all the other subjects should have a bearing and emphasis on farming.