The African youth population bulge- I love talking about the young African people, we are powerful, we have the energy, the passion, the education, yet we don’ t know what identity to take on, and which place is best for us. There is also the huge challenge of who we really are! Some think we are crazy! Some think we are to be seen and not to be heard, others think we are unskilled and inexperienced. Yet, the world thinks if we are not well treated, the future will be doomed! Our perception of farming since we were born, is not that of the lifestyles we currently hold, if no one agrees with me on this, I personally completely agree with it. I only changed my perception of agriculture as a noble career that I would take up only a few years ago….and this was because I had the chance to interact with the realities. The challenges that faced local communities as I tired to educate them on conservation, I realized there was a bigger problem than just having a good environment, we did not have enough food, and no young person was enthusiastic about this idea! In fact we did not know it was a sleeping potential It’ s the shadow we are scared of: unemployment, social strife etc
Most of us have grown up in farming (and or fishing communities, pastoral communities etc) But there was a lot of emphasis for us not to get interested in the careers/ professions of our parents- especially if they were doing them for subsistence. Yet, over 70% of the African population are employed in agriculture sector in Africa.
We individually, consciously, or unconsciously disempowered ourselves, by allowing others tell us who we were? Education disempowered generations? States and their policies disempowered generations? International community disempowered generations?
Misconception of why education was needed during the colonial times Empowerment from education Human resource This is my idea of what should happen next in resolving the challenge of food in Africa. Putting young people at the center of the process
We set out to encourage teachers to use local projects to as learning tools on food production, health and nutrition, these included school gardens, water conservation, livestock keeping among others We involved the parents, the teachers the students and the government ministries that were linked the projects that the schools designed. My core objective in this programme, was to see the children develop an interest in how food could be grown in their locality, and how other income generating activities in their community would actually contribute to food security- some of the places, we could not target farming as they were really dry- but they could keep goats and fatten steers which would be later sold at a profit- then directed to school meals. I was also interested in equipping the children with the practical skills, and motivating them to desire careers in agriculture and rural development related professions. This could only start if we gave them a good picture of what food really was- not the truck that drove the corn and oil to their school every beginning of term. In short the project was life skills based both for the parents and the children, but also for the teachers who had to use the projects to teach their subjects.
So, I am hoping all of you have their careers matched! When I go home, even though my parents never thought I would take up a career relating to agriculture, I am daily faced with challenges of mum needing answers on why her crops are doing well, what insecticides she should use, how she should plant her peas, her wheat, and what time is best to plant onions! Yet she did want me to become a farmer! I cant help much, I am an environmentalist, not an agronomist! But I am helping now, I am interested in seeing more young people engage in agricukture right from early age. Not to be under the influence of parents like mine. Thank you.
Mwaura Enticing african young people to agriculture through education, training and mentorship
Y O U N G P E O P L E F A R M IN G & F O O DI TERN ATI N AL CO N FEREN CE O N THE FUTURE O F THE AGRI O D SEC TO R I AFRIN O FO N CA Grace Mwaura Enticing African young people to agriculture through education, training and mentorship 19t - 21stM ar 2012 Accr Ghana h ch a,
OUTLINE• Introduction• The Challenge- “Terrors of the present”• The New Frontiers Thesis• Conclusions
Why does it matter?“Africa has long been known for its abundant mineraland agricultural resources and beautiful wildlife.Currently, this enigmatic region is also being recognizedfor its abundance in human resources and is beingdefined as the youngest continent due to its highproportion of young people. Young people are thebackbone on which every successful nation has beenbuilt. Unfortunately African nations have yet to recognizethe treasure they have in their youth and strategize howto tap into this profuse resource” Christine Mutuku,2011- PHD Dissertation
What is the challenge?“Disempowerment- whether through a lack of selfconfidence, apathy, fear, or an inability to takecharge of one’s own life- is perhaps the mostunrecognized problem in Africa today. To thedisempowered, it seems much easier, or even moreacceptable to leave one’s life in the hands of thirdparties…” (Late Prof. Wangari Maathai, 2009- TheChallenge for Africa).