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Agribusiness—Inspiring the Next Generation

Entomologist Dr. Josephine Songa, AWARD Science Officer, was one of 15 African women scientists in the pilot program that preceded AWARD.  A strong advocate for youth, she has since mentored several AWARD Fellows, encouraging them to advance in their careers.

How can Africa’s young people be inspired and equipped to become skilled and successful farmers and agri-business entrepreneurs?

Dr.  Josephine Songa, AWARD Science Officer,was one of the delegates at the African Green Revolution Forum in Arusha, Tanzania who gave their views, including the need to teach agri-business in schools, rural, agricultural training centres for school leavers, and use of social media and ICT to engage young people with agricultural information. Other suggestions include giving young agricultural graduates access to government farmland, and government support for loan facilities targeted at young people, to provide start-up capital.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the average age of a farmer in Africa is around 60 years old. At the same time, every year thousands of young people are leaving rural areas to search for work in towns. The question of who will grow the food to feed Africa’s future generations is a serious one. 

For most young people, the type of farming practiced by their parents and grandparents is not an attractive option. But could there be a different way forward, such as using machinery and other new technologies? And how can young people be encouraged to invest their time and energy in this kind of farming? The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa has recently invited farming experts from across the continent to share their ideas and develop action plans for Africa’s agricultural sector.

Josephine Songa—Science Officer, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development
Joan Rutaro—Program Director, Uganda Development Trust
Grace Omondi—Communications specialist, CABI Africa 
Janet Magoiya—Programme manager, Farm Concern International

 

Pius Sawa reports from Arusha, Tanzania.