Why technologies could hook the youth to agriculture

Youths weed a millet plantation near Guida Iddran village
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[NAIROBI] Strengthening resilience and food security for agricultural communities is necessary for transforming agriculture, wellness and development of people, especially the youth, in Africa.

Salient to me from the Ministerial Conference on Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition and the 4th Agritec Africa International Exhibition in Kenya last week (14-16 June) was that droughts, floods, and rising temperatures are already cutting crop yields, threatening fish stocks and meat supply, and pushing people deeper into poverty.

Organised by Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition, the meeting assembled critical players in the African agriculture sector such as ministers, farmers, private agribusiness firms, financial institutions, civil society, scientists and international development partners to discuss and develop concrete plans for achieving measures to reduce food crises in Africa.

“I see technological innovations in agriculture as key to creating new jobs and economic opportunities for the youth in Africa’s agricultural sector.”

Sam Otieno

Even more worrying to the continent’s food baskets are climate change-related impacts and shocks threatening to diminish future productivity growth.

I concur with experts that climate-smart agriculture is more urgent for Africa than ever before to help build resilience of vulnerable communities to climate change impacts.

And I believe technological innovations in agriculture are key to creating new jobs and economic opportunities for the youth in Africa’s agricultural sector.

Young people should be engaged in agricultural value chains through scientific innovations.

Experts at the meeting could not be further from the truth by saying that the agriculture sector contributes a significant share of jobs in African countries.

Annie Nyagah, executive director of 4-H, an organisation that aims to empower youth innovators in Kenya, sounded quite convincing that new technologies and innovations can create new opportunities for the youth to gain employments in agriculture.

Technological innovations such as information and communication technologies are increasingly connecting farmers to markets, reducing transaction costs, and raising food system efficiencies.

Yes, young people are well-placed to benefit from jobs created by these innovations because they are more likely than adults to own ICT technologies such as mobile phones and adopt extension services using the digital platforms.

Solar power is providing new job opportunities for agro-processing in off-grid areas. Digital finance such as M-Pesa in Kenya and many variants in other countries are increasingly facilitating micro-entrepreneurship. E-commerce platforms are linking small entrepreneurs with national and global markets.

With these developments, I have no doubt that future jobs in the agricultural sector will have a high knowledge and technology content, and subsequently be more attractive to the youth.
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.