Opinion and comment from Future Agricultures researchers on agricultural politics, science and society in Africa.
The need to change young people’s attitudes towards agriculture
Guest post by James Karuga. James is a Kenyan journalist and one of the winners of our journalism competition for reporting on young people, farming and food.
Agriculture’s contribution to Ghana’s economy has nearly halved over the last 20 years. In 1990 the sector contributed 40% but by 2011 it had dipped to 24.4%, according to Dr Samuel Kojo Dapaah of Ghana’s Ministry of Agriculture, speaking at the Young People, Farming and Food conference yesterday.
Agricultural experts in Africa agree this downward trend needs to be reduced if Africa has to overcome her food crisis where 1 in 3 people are nutritionally challenged. As a result, focus has turned to the youth who making up over 60 percent of Africa’s population can play a key role in ensuring Africa is able to feed her people and grow her food sector industry in the future.
Speaking in the same session, Professor Ramatu Al-Hassan, of the department of agribusiness and agriculture economics at the University of Ghana, said: “it’s important to support young people to take advantage of agricultural opportunities in Africa.”
That will involve breaking the myths around agriculture in Africa which portray it as a fall-back profession when other career avenues fail. According to Dr Kojo Dapaah, that could be broken by public and private players in the sector demonstrating that there is money in agriculture.
Among the ways the detrimental attitudes can be broken are through education, and by showcasing young people who have excelled in agriculture in the continent as worth emulating. A case was cited of a young engineer in Ghana encouraging young people in the country to embrace a career in agriculture, which he himself has pursued successfully.
Picture: Dr Namanga Ngongi, AGRA