Heifer International has urged Malawi and other African countries to increase youth engagement in the agricultural sector in a bid to effectively develop the sector.
This is contained in a report issued after reviewing the role of the youth and technology in order to understand their participation in agriculture as well as impact on food security.
Among other things, the study found that access to areas such as finance and land as well as lack of training remains key barriers to youth engagement in countries.
It notes that Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda boast of the highest percentage of youths engaged in the sector, at 88, 61 and 55 percent, respectively.
In a statement released alongside the findings, Heifer International Malawi Country Director Mwai Chitete said this shows youths’ commitment to develop the sector.
“This is an opportunity for both commercial and public financial institutions to develop tailor-made agriculture friendly financial instruments that these young people can use to improve their farms, and access to capital would allow these young people to both scale up their operations and access modern agri-techs to improve their output and in the process provide employment to others,” Chitete said.
The report says food insecurity in Afr continues to grow at a disturbing rate as smallholder farmers have limited access to improved farming techniques, markets, and inputs, and Africa’s young population is a key determinant in supporting the food security issues the continent faces.
“Innovation in agriculture will drive growth in African countries, encouraging innovation by supporting programmes geared towards accelerating youth-owned agriculture businesses, and other business stakeholders along the agriculture value chain will serve as a catalyst for economic development,” the report reads.
Local agriculture expert Tamani Nkhono Mvula Wednesday said youths’ involvement in higher-value chain agriculture is vital.
“When talking about the youth, we are talking about creativity as the youth are able to come up with new technologies thereby moving away from old methods that have been in use. They will be able to bring forth newer initiatives as well,” Mvula said.
Due to its contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) and the workforce, agriculture is the main pillar of Malawi’s economy as It accounts for around 37 percent of GDP and 80 percent of the workforce.