Agriculture has an image problem. Simply put, for the majority of the world’s youth, agriculture simply isn’t seen as being “cool” or attractive. Most think of it only as back-breaking labor, without an economic pay-off — and little room for career advancement. Like Chief Minister Pawn Chamling rightly said today at 3rd Sikkim Organic Day celebration in Gangtok “Agriculture as a profession will never be out of fashion or out dated,” .
With an ageing population of farmers, it’s clear that agriculture needs to attract more young people. This is a global challenge.
“The exodus of rural youth means fewer small-scale farmers tomorrow, potentially drastically changing the profile of farming
Increased access to education and new forms of agriculture-based enterprise mean that young people can be a vital force for innovation in family farming, increasing incomes and well-being for both farmers and local communities. Young people can transform the agricultural sector by applying new technologies and new thinking
Agriculture means more than subsistence farming – today, young people can explore career options in permaculture design, biodynamic farming, communication technologies, forecasting, marketing, logistics, quality assurance, urban agriculture projects, food preparation, environmental sciences, advanced technologies, and more.
Farmers, businesses, policy-makers, and educators need to promote agriculture as an intellectually stimulating and economically sustainable career—and make jobs in the agriculture and food system “cool” for young people all over the world.
A resurgence of interest among young farmers is happening and it’s vital to support this growth.
Engaging youth in agriculture has been a prominent topic recently and has risen up the development agenda, as there is growing concern worldwide that young people have become disenchanted with agriculture.
Currently around the world we’re living in an era where rapid urbanisation has led to a decline in rural populations and for the first time ever the majority of the world’s population lives in a city.
Despite the decline in interest for agriculture as a career there are still young farmers working all over the world. To encourage others to join the sector it is vital that they are offered a voice, and that we take note of what they have to say.
Particularly this includes giving young farmers at policy level a chance to offer their opinion and experiences. In this way, they can show other young people that farming can be a rewarding career as well as highlighting the important role of agriculture on a global scale.
Another, rather different, way of offering young farmers a voice is to use media. The media must defy stereotypes and demonstrate that there is a role for young people in the agriculture industry.
New technologies are available that can help mitigate the effects of climate change and grow more food with less inputs. However, a lack of extension services has meant farmers have been unable to access these new innovations.
A younger generation can help introduce new technologies whilst also learning from traditional methods, holding the potential to offer the perfect fusion of new and traditional solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges.
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 is as an active profession in the long-run, so many of the smallholder farmers are quite aged.
The increased use of mobiles 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.
Farming offers the young generation a chance to make a difference by growing enough food to feed the world.
Those who become farmers now have the opportunity to be the generation that end world hunger and alleviate malnutrition, as well as helping the sector adapt to climate change.
There are many challenges ahead for the sector but if young people are offered education in agriculture, a voice at policy level, and in the media, and are engaged with innovations then the agriculture industry can attract youth again. It is this new generation that – working together – can help to achieve global development.