There is an image disconnect, despite the reality that agriculture is suited to be a primary employment domain for young people in much of Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP). The disconnect is that societal recognition accorded agriculture remains low and this is worst amongst young people and has made it detrimental to the sustainability of the sector.
The relationship between young people and their interest in the agricultural sector, whether to be attributed to failing economies, the low productivity and income output in the sector, inadequate labour and capital for input investment, coupled with an unattractive rural environment, could be due to the evolving ambitions and desires of both young people and their predecessors – an agrarian transition. As such, it is not shocking that a myriad range of varied wits have focused on making agriculture striking. This phenomenon calls for an appropriate and timely intervention in order to encourage the youth to believe in the vast prospects in the sector and to ensure that the agricultural sector becomes more productive and sustainable.
The work of Agro Mindset gleans toward promoting agriculture as both a moral duty and in national interests as it ensures global prosperity, and represents tremendous value for money. We have focused exclusively on educating the youth on the prospects of agriculture, its self-employment role and wealth creation. This includes using the bottom-up approach to transform youthful thinking from fork (state of consumption) to field (state of activity and productivity). Youth is an asset. Young people the shapers of the future are an asset to society. If farming, agricultural research and extension services are no longer seen as a viable professional future for the younger generation, then either youth or agriculture is in peril. Our work would help save the youthful human face of the occurrence of jobless growth, reduce rural youth migration, advance agricultural education and create jobs. We can reach a million youth by 2016 in much of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific with our online educator program and more in the years to come.
Agriculture involves a lot more than crop and animal production. Holistically, it constitutes ways of exploiting and managing natural resources within the broader theme of ensuring food security, providing nutrition, supporting livelihoods with the provision of productive work which generates income and alleviates poverty. Agriculture is thus a complex sector that needs to be managed for sustainable benefits to society at large. It is evident that prioritizing agricultural development could yield significant, interconnected benefits, particularly in achieving food security and reducing hunger; increasing incomes and reducing poverty; advancing the human development agenda in health and education; and reversing environmental damage.
Despite these important roles of agriculture, its future is shrouded in doubt because young people who are the future of agriculture do not want to be involved in it. The sector lacks the needed investment, which is a major problem. 21st century farming is much about the elderly. Usually, people are found going into farming after retiring from the public sector and other lifetime jobs.To reverse this trend, it is imperative not only to develop policies to motivate young people to go into agriculture to sustain the sector. Our relevance includes promoting the demand driven innovation: innovation to address real challenges as we call up on investors, governments, and other stakeholders to join hands and fund ‘youth in agriculture’ since this will partly solve the problem of youth employment, which is pervasive in the ACP.
Agro Mindset is working to change attitudes and break stereotypes. Without a clear policy strategy for engaging this rising group of youth, leaders and the development partners that work with them risk creating an economic time bomb for their successors. But more importantly if policymakers fail to find finance for and include youth in policy and development planning processes, our development legacy can be a missed opportunity to transform the lives of this and the next generation.
Regarding youth and agriculture, it goes without saying that the stakeholders are expected to involve the youth in innovation and policy formulation. Not much is said about what the youth can do themselves to facilitate their involvement in these processes. Agro Mindset is keen about this transformation and actively in the front lines leading by example.
The vision of the Agro Mindset, among other things, is to own one a productive commercial farm in Ghana producing and manufacturing food and food products of the highest quality, using state-of-the-art technology and by employing and training the youth of Ghana. I envision every subsidiary under the Agro Mindset brand gaining reputation for excellence and purpose-driven in their respective fields not only in Ghana and Africa, but also globally. For instance in the next 30 years, the Agro Mindset Academy is set to be the frontier agriculture academic institution in Ghana, offering holistic agricultural education to youth across Africa interested in the food service and manufacturing industry. We aim to help eradicate youth unemployment by empowering and equipping the next generation of entrepreneurial agriculturists for sustainable agriculture and food production, under the Agro Mindset brand, globally. The future of agriculture lies on the younger generation coming through to provide succession, add enthusiasm, bring fresh ideas and drive innovation.
Agro Mindset’s Green Revolution is not an apple that will fall when ripe. We have to make it fall!
David Asare Asiamah – Founder, Agro Mindset