Young people in any country represent the future. They have a vital role to play the development of their country in by working hard in any field they are involved in, be it teaching, engineering or farming.
But it they are to actively participate in national agribusiness, they need to be supported and encouraged by the government, the private sector, the civil society and their parents. They also need to have a mind-set that agriculture isn’t a way of life, but a business which should be taken seriously.
Changing common perceptions of agriculture is a major challenge in Africa. Images of hoes and cutlasses are outdated, while people tend to think of agriculture just for people in the rural areas, as a tool for poverty eradication, or as a retirement job.
We as youth should start to see agriculture as a business, and explore value chains looking for potential opportunities, such as investing in inputs, production, post-harvest and aggregation processing, and in wholesale, retail, and consumer sectors. Production is only one part of agriculture: we can be innovative in other areas. For instance, by adding a little value in processing a farm commodity increases the market value of that commodity.
These days, modern tools like the internet and information and communications technology link the market to farmers, and farmers to farmers, in procuring chemicals, seeds, machinery, fertilizers, and other inputs, cutting out the intermediaries and reducing corruption.
The government should put in place policies (which involve the youth) that would encourage the participation of the private sector in providing soft loans to youth to set up their agriculture enterprises.
As youth, let us see the opportunities in these few challenges that our beloved continent and other parts of the world may face. Let us innovate and make a business out of these problems.
Blogpost and picture by Regis Umugiraneza, rajregis1(at)gmail.com, #AASW7 social reporter.
This post represents the author’s views only.