The world population is expected to reach nine billion by 2050 and this poses a major challenge to food security, if productivity does not match population demands.
Africa is being viewed as the next food basket of the world due to the vast arable land and huge irrigation potential. Yet, Africa still fails to feed itself to date due to low adoption of improved farming technologies such as the use of improved seed, fertilisers and irrigation. Worse still, young people seem to undervalue the role of agriculture as the major income source among 80% of Africa’s farming population – small holders.
As an Aspen New Voices fellow (2017) and a young person engaged in agriculture and livelihoods promotion in Africa, I was invited to speak at the World Food Price 2017 Borlaug dialogue at Des Moines, Iowa state in the US. Together with a nutritionist from CGIAR, an Agriculture policy expert from FANPRAN, an agriprenur from Mali and Ugandas 2016 best young farmer award winner, we interrogated the challenges affecting young farmers in Africa and how to attract them towards engaging in Agriculture as a business – in a panel moderated by the vice president AGRA.
My submission was that three questions are being asked by the young people of Africa for which they desperately need answers; does Agriculture pay enough for one to lead a sustainable livelihood? Can I practice agriculture in a dignified way such that I am respected by my peers and my community? Is agriculture a reliable venture to invest in – looking at the numerous shocks and losses that farmers incur from weather vagaries and post-harvest loses?