Founding director of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement at the University of Ghana Prof. Eric Danquah is urging African governments to increase investments in youth in agriculture programs.
He says the youth will only take up jobs in the agriculture sector if they see opportunities there and funding is needed to create the right opportunities.
“We want the youth to go into agriculture, but they won’t go if there are no opportunities… Remember that if you don’t fund research, there will be no innovations for the youth to take up,” he said in an interview with the media at the Africa Food Systems Forum (AFSF) in Dar es Salam, Tanzania.
“The first thing we must do is to ensure that there are opportunities that the youth can take up. So, you get back to the research institutions and empower them to develop the innovations that will create opportunities for the youth entering the agrispace,” Prof. Danquah said.
“It’s only then that you will find the youth coming into the agriculture sector to take up the innovations and then translate the ideas into businesses that impact the people,” he added.
Prof. Danquah who is the 2022 Africa Food Prize Winner is one of over 4,000 delegates, leaders, and innovators from across the globe who have gathered in Tanzania to discuss policy, breakthroughs, and innovations in Africa’s agriculture.
The AFSF, formerly known as AGRF, is the world’s annual premier forum on African agriculture and food systems. This year’s forum in Dar es Salaam is being chaired by Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan. It is anchored around building Africa’s food systems and food sovereignty with the youth and women at the center.
Madam Suluhu Hassan earlier addressed a youth town hall during which she challenged Africa’s young people to venture into agricultural ventures as viable career options.
“We want young people to look at agriculture as a source of income and livelihood, not as a menial job,” she said.
“In Tanzania, what we have started doing is decoding this myth of agriculture being for the poor through the dissemination of the right information. We’ve started working with off-takers, young men and women, and they are changing the agriculture conversation,” she added.
The Tanzanian president commended AGRA and its president Dr. Agnes Kalibata for a well-organized Africa Food Systems Forum, the outcome of which will duly shape agricultural production on the continent.