In the midst of technological advancement, some countries are shedding labor, and traditional ways of food production aren’t exactly what many will call admirable. Agriculture is slowly dying, and the impacts of climate change and conflicts are threatening the progress towards addressing issues like hunger, poverty, and unemployment.
But are we getting ahead of ourselves? Perhaps, for a focus on women and the youth in the agricultural sector can create lots of job opportunities while at the same time contributing significantly to the country’s economy.
The future of the youth according to many is technology and the internet. Well, that might be true but what many haven’t realized is that the two can be utilized in the agricultural sector. Farming has a great potential and incorporating technology will go a long way in bringing satisfaction both career-wise and financially.
Technological innovations and the internet are opening up a plethora of opportunities worth not passing up. Urbanization and the ever-changing diets are calling for new and exceptional ways of processing, marketing, and the consumption of food.
Furthermore, if one can produce exclusively healthy farm produces free of chemicals and other harmful substances, ready market is a guarantee. But why focus on women and the youth?
For one, we have all had enough of empty promises from the majority of the men holding good positions in the government and other jobs. While the focus on addressing gender gaps in several sectors of the economy feature only the educated, majority of innovative women are in the rural areas.
These women are not asking for new rhetoric or promises. They only want to better their families and empower themselves economically. They want to be respected and recognized in their developmental roles.
The best way to enhance these women’s productive capacities is by enabling them to have a favorable environment to do their farming and other income-generating activities to create more wealth.
The youth, on the other hand, are innovative, driven by change, and are perpetually looking for new ways to make their lives easy. Investment in the right innovations in the agricultural sector goes a long way in accelerating development through the youth both in rural and urban centers.
African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries all agree that youth employment is a key determinant factor for sustainable development. This means that an empowered workforce begins with the engagement of youth at all levels.
Leveraging the countless opportunities in the agricultural sector and offering them support will come in handy in motivating them to become the next generation agribusiness leaders driving change in the agricultural revolution.
That said, what are the opportunities in the agricultural sector that women and the youth can capitalize on?
First off, amidst urbanization, incomes are bound to rise and food expenditure will decline as a share of total spending. This has driven many away from the farming sector. However, this problem can be sustained only if the agricultural industry considers innovation both in production and market accessibility. And ICT is the solution.
Machinery services facilitated through automation and mechanization needs to be intensely supported for the sustainability of the sector. Depending on ICT is fundamental in improving agronomic practices that facilitate extension, and most importantly, elevating the ease of accessing markets not to mention enabling farmers to leverage their bargaining position for better market prices.
Innovations in farming will also allow the farmer to have better yields and reduced costs of production. Initiatives like the European Union’s Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) that aims to improve the fortunes of women in Agribusiness in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific region countries are a step in the right direction.
Such projects will create opportunities for women regarding access to finance and other productive resources, markets and knowledge and skills. This is achievable through supporting their farming activities.
Meanwhile, the agricultural stream is creating countless jobs and although we might ignore farming, there is no denying that there are many employment opportunities in the sector. This has been fueled by the demand for aggregation, storage, processing, logistics, food preparation, restaurants and other related services that are becoming increasingly important.
To better prepare the youth and women to rope themselves in agribusiness, the Kenyan government, as well as other African governments, should develop sound policies that will support their rise and growth in agribusiness and enterprise.
Notably, many millennials express to see their future outside the agricultural sector, of which is a challenge given that the current situation isn’t attractive for them. The challenge is for the state to make the agricultural sector and its up and downstream activities competitive through innovation, public investment in supportive rural public goods and services, and secondary town development. This will attract the youth, women, and other farmers to agribusiness.
While this issue remains largely unaddressed, the point is to focus on the goal of eradicating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.