Farming for the Future: three ways to rethink youth livelihoods in the agriculture sector
In this blog, Grace Mwaura questions the nature of livelihood opportunities that young people are being encouraged to pursue and their implications for the future. Increasing the number of (young/new) farmers will address an immediate need for employment and food security in Africa; but it will also illuminate the systemic challenge concerning the future of farming. In this blog, she highlights three key issues around the narrative of enticing young people into agriculture: the ecological footprint, the markets, and the policy incentives. Her argument is that, in addition to real incomes and enhanced capabilities, youth opportunities in the agriculture sector must also contribute to ensuring that the agricultural landscapes remain resilient to the changing environment. At the heart of national and regional policy reforms to achieve the needed transformations, is the need to prioritise safeguarding the sovereignty of local farmers, their seeds, and their land resources; establishing agricultural processing and manufacturing industries so that more young people are absorbed across the agriculture value chains; and enhancing rural infrastructure to facilitate distribution, access and affordability even in the most remote areas of Africa. According to Mwaura, our attention should focus then on whether indeed our efforts to increase employment opportunities in agriculture align with our overall vision of sustainable development.