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Agriculture needs to attract more youths, argues expert

By Standard Reporter | Published Tue, August 15th 2017 at 16:51, Updated August 15th 2017 at 16:55 GMT +3

NAIROBI, KENYA: There are more returns in agriculture than the traditional income sources such as formal employment, an expert in the field as said.

As such, Shem Odhiambo, the country director of Export Trading Group (ETG), a multinational dealing in farm inputs, says youths should exert their efforts in farming, a sector once perceived to be dominated by the less educated in the society.

"As a matter of fact, agriculture has an image problem. For the majority of youths in Kenya, agriculture is not a lucrative avenue of employment," observes and Odhiambo.

Indeed, most youths think agriculture is a back-breaking activity without a handsome economic payoff and with zero career advancement. 

Yet with an aging population of farmers, Mr Odhiambo argues, there is a need for youths to be lured into agriculture. "This is a big challenge for the average age of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa is around 60 years old."

With the current unemployment averaging 40 per cent, majority of whom are the youths, the agricultural sector offers huge potential for job creation.

"Communicating this reality to youth can radically change their attitude towards agriculture," he said.

Promisingly, youths across the country are already turning to farming for careers. Analysts say the current century agriculture means more than subsistence farming. 

The ETG Boss says increased access to education and new forms of agriculture-based enterprise mean that young people can be a vital force for innovation in farming, increasing incomes and well-being for people in the society. 

He adds that there is little doubt that youths investing in agriculture would see production increase. "Young people can transform the agricultural sector by applying new technologies and new thinking. Ultimately, this translates to more farm production."

It is for this reason that ETG is embarking on an ambitious campaign in not only Kenya but also in other African countries to lure youths into agriculture."Our campaigns aim at promoting agriculture as an intellectually stimulating and economically sustainable career while making jobs in the agriculture and food system attractive to youths," Mr Odhiambo says.

The continuous campaign programme includes mentorship, providing marketing education, extension services, offering of affordable but high quality farm inputs, offering seminars and on-farm field days.

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