‘The Land of our Birth’: Rural Youth Aspirations and Career Choice in Farming

By Richard A. Ampadu, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University, The Hague

A greater majority of studies in career development have focused on the educational aspirations of young people, with a particular accent on urban youth. Although agriculture is the mainstay and hope of most developing countries, career choice and the developing aspirations of youth in these countries have received little research and policy attention. This is spite of the increasing rates of un (under)employment, and poverty among the youth in rural agricultural sector. In the main, the top priorities for research and policy development have tended to concentrated on the listing of opportunities and constraints in agricultural development, youth out migration factors and approaches for improving growth targets. Focus on youth has often been rhetoric.

To contribute to the young people-agricultural nexus, a qualitative data based on the narratives of a cross-section of youth from diverse socio-economic backgrounds in rural communities in Manya Krobo, Ghana was collected and analysed. This exposes the conditions and factors that inspire some rural young people to aspire to become farmers, daring all the constraints listed in policy and research reports.

The paper shows how a complex network of factors motivates rural young people to develop long term careers in rural farming. It shows the relationship between choice of farming as a career and youth aspirations. This suggests that a focus and integration of youth aspirations in agriculture development policies may have immense impact on recruiting the youth into agriculture. The factors identified to encourage the youth to stay and work as farmers in rural communities include the reality of being born and bred in a rural community, willingness to identify with community goals, aspirations and development, desire to be a recognized local/national farmer and the opportunity to inherit land. In view of this it is recommended that youth aspirations in rural farming should be a significant element of policy and research. This will help contribute knowledge to understanding the complex, dynamic and changing state of agricultural development in Africa.

File: Ampandu, The land of our birth.pdf