Monday July 21 2014

Farming is good option for youth

Beatrice Alyanata’s article on how farming is a great career choice for the youth (Daily Monitor, June 18) was spot on. As a youth entrepreneur with full time engagement in agribusiness enterprise development, I strongly believe that transforming youth livelihoods should be based on attracting fresh and young brains to the agriculture sector. This, however, is a huge task because many farming ventures in this country are still based on peasant practices. And trying to change such trends means changing traditions. With low elements of commercialism in the sector, it will always be hard to convince the youth to pursue careers in farming.

Creating linkages between what is taught in schools and the necessary practical solutions is vital and urgent. This should be done concurrently with an equally stronger campaign focusing on having secondary school students, those in higher institutions of learning and graduates in pioneering reforms in the agriculture sector within local communities. This can be done through:

Youth farmers’ investment clubs. Youth should register farmer groups and they should be trained to acquire skills in small-scale agribusiness enterprises. They can get funding from Naads and youth livelihood programmes to start commercial farming.

Exposure. The youth need to be exposed to various opportunities through setting up demonstration farms that offer practical guidance on how agribusiness can be developed through innovative and sustainable farming practices.

Farming as a profitable venture. The youth are readily trainable and once mentored to develop their investment clubs into fully-fledged agribusiness enterprises, they are bound to succeed. Profits from their work should be reinvested in expanding their enterprises and facilitating further skills training.

Education and training. With an improved education system that exposes the youth to practical skills, an inclination towards how advanced methods of production and innovative agribusiness practices can be used to boost the sector should be emphasised. Children will understand the basics of establishing profitable farming ventures right from primary schools. Secondary schools and higher learning institutions can then be used to impart additional skills. This will nurture the entrepreneurial spirit of young people. Then schools will be charged with sustaining such developments through continuously devoting time and financial resources towards the cause.

Financial training and funding. There is need to direct a considerable portion of financial support to this cause. Local governments should create provisions within their annual expenditures and Parliament should push for a more direct approach to guide the implementation of community livelihood programmes.

Youth farmers Saccos. Savings and credit cooperatives that serve the youth engaged in farming and agricultural value addition chain should be started to facilitate development of the enterprises. In the long run, this will not just benefit the youth and their communities; the national economy will improve as well – just by putting the most capable labour force, the youth, to productive use.

Kasakkya Farm,
Run by a youth graduate farmer