Young workers are vital to Africa’s agricultural sector

Posted on January 3, 2017 12:28 am

Yesterday I shared my views on how drones are going to play a central role in Africa’s agriculture industry future. That was the technology side. Today, I want to focus on human role in the sector. In Africa, the average age of a farmer is 60 years while the average age of unemployed in Africa is 20 years. More than 9,000,000 African youths enter the job market annually. Most live and work in African capital cities, and youngsters are more urbanised than the average African today. However, in the last few years, new farming methods have opened up to attract new and young workers and their families to the African bush. Increased chances of sustainable income for educated farmer to accept employment in regional and rural towns has more than doubled the number of young people taking up farming as formal employment in countries surveyed last year namely Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia.At the same time, increasing numbers of graduates are getting attracted to the farming industry. With that, young workers add substantially to productivity in the agricultural industry, according to a study conducted in 2016. For policymakers, the attraction of getting youngsters to rural areas is that it helps reduce labour shortages particularly during seasonal harvesting peaks and counteracts the trend of population movement away from the rural to the metropolis.Young population play a critical role in the African agricultural industry. Some of these youngsters become entrepreneurs, opening up a business.Skilled farmers in the agricultural sector are also much more likely to have set up their own business than those in other industries, the study showed.

When set against the African average rate of entrepreneurship, meaning those in the workforce who are self-employed or employers, this propensity for young entrepreneurship in the African agricultural sector is very encouraging, since entrepreneurs drive employment and productivity growth in the industry.Young workers are also finding it possible to get employers in the rural areas eager to fund their application, particularly in professional and technical occupations. Working graduates and students holiday makers fill critical jobs during harvesting and picking seasons.Young workers are also eager to supplement the income of their families back home through remittances via mobile money or bank transfers. They also get to learn new skills.As a person familiar with farming, I believe young farmers will definitely fill the growing intergenerational gap in farm succession and bring with them new technologies and innovations to African farming. The agriculture, forestry and fishing industries receive the greatest benefit from youngsters who have more knowledge about the sectors than their older folks. Researchers have found that the majority of youngsters with the intention of working in the agricultural industry are aged between 20 – 35 years. Most of those interviewed reported that the best thing about their experience was that they had good relations with the old farmers they worked with, learned new skills, had to opportunity to improve, and received good wages. Many of those interviewed and already working in farming sector reported strong connections through churches, sporting and community events in their regional, rural and remote towns. Those who work in the agricultural industry reported a higher level of social engagement.In conclusion, youngsters, will definitely play a crucial role in Africa’s biggest employer future.

Contador Harrison