Want to make agriculture attractive for Africa’s youth? More bitumen please
This blog by the The Chicago Council on Global Affairs explores unconventional solutions to make agriculture “sexy” for Africa’s young people. Currently, making agriculture sexy for youth is focused on increasing the profitabiltity of the sector. However, for youth it’s not just about money. Youth now has to make a choice between farmers or giving up the joys of youth. Sex, money and fun are inseparable throughout any and all youth activities. A positive deviant story in agriculture cannot simply be about a wealthy young farmer. It needs to be about young people having fun and being able to live the good life. Rather than trying to make rural areas more exciting, focus should be on making it possible for young people in rural areas to have access to urban pleasures. Investment in infrastructure is needed, like in roads and railways that connect rural and urban spaces. Young people in rural areas must not be faced with an untenable choice between giving up their youth or being farmers. Furthermore, African youth is engaged differently in agriculture, using social networks to buid vibrant communities. Unfortunately, because most agricultural support services were built on assumptions of an older demographic of farmers, they have not adjusted to adequately meet the needs and priorities of Africa’s growing crop of young digital farmers. African governments hold the true but untapped potential to take digital farmer support services to scale. So making agriculture sexy to youth should be part of a larger conversation about an inclusive agricultural sector in Africa.