Department and School: Forestry and Nature Conservation; University of Rwanda-College of Agriculture, Animal Sciences and Veterinary Medicine
Africa is still short of food despite its appreciable improvements in food security. In Africa, food insecurity prevention mechanisms exist but lack adequate means of implementation. For example, farming is mostly done by old and uneducated people from rural areas. Perhaps this is why only 4.5% of African land is cultivated yet 60% of the world’s available land for food production is on this continent; or why there is an annual post harvest loss of 37% of cereals in sub-Saharan Africa (FAO, 2011). Africa’s youth, considered as the hope for a better future, poorly participate in farming. As an innovation, the problem of food shortage should be addressed mainly by the youth, not the old. Youth’s contribution guarantees a united, supported and innovative mean towards a food secure Africa.
Modernized irrigation, mechanization, drainage, ICT, and extension are all forms of agricultural innovations present in Africa. However, those technologies can’t end Africa’s hunger if they are operated by unskilled, weak farmers. It is good that much time is spent teaching rural farmers about creative ways of doing agriculture; but it would be better if young people were more empowered. The youth have easier access to information, faster understanding and awareness to new things, and they are more fit than old people. These opportunities make the youth a trusted source of innovative ideas. A younger generation can help introduce new technologies while also learning from traditional methods, holding the potential to offer the perfect fusion of new and traditional solutions to hunger.
Although it is a sustainable solution, there is a lot of concern about engaging youth in agriculture. In many ways, young people are not very much interested in continuing in agriculture because they don’t see much prospect in the future of agriculture. They don’t see it as an active profession in the long-run, so many of the smallholder farmers are quite aged (60 years by average). With most young people (65%) living in Africa, where agriculture is the sole promoter of food security, it is vital that youth are connected with farming, i.e. crop production, fish farming, bee keeping, animal husbandry, etc.
Agricultural innovative approaches like ICTs could provide new opportunity for making agriculture more interesting and attractive for young people resulting in the boost of agricultural productivity. Increased use of mobile phones in farming can also help deter young people away from stereotypes of traditional farming and help change their perceptions on agriculture, helping them to view it as an exciting and innovative industry (Farm Africa, 2013). Social media is another excellent way to showcase the benefits of agriculture. Through media, youth can be excited about some of agricultural technologies; hence the automatic recruitment of more young people into the sector. Post harvest losses, land and animal resources mismanagement, high food prices, and low technology are all barriers to food security in Africa. With technological innovations, African youth can put an end to hunger if they work closely with policy makers.