Accra, July 16, GNA – A research report on “Youth and Smallholder Farmers in Agric-Tech in Africa” has identified lack of training, funds as well as access to lands for farming as the key barriers to youth engagement in agriculture in Africa.
The research conducted by Heifer International, a global development organisation focused on ending poverty and hunger, showed that there was low agricultural technology adoption in most African countries as only 23 per cent of the youth in farming used agricultural technologies.
Madam Ewurabena Yanyi-Akofur, an Interim Country Director of Heifer International Ghana, who launched the research report in Accra on Friday, said the potential of the agricultural sector to contribute to development in Africa was threatened by a generational shift in interest in farming among young people.
She said factors like climate change, lack of technology know-how by farmers and low productivity due to unfavourable and outdated farming practices had also contributed to the poor farming outcomes.
Madam Yanyi-Akofur said the research was necessitated by the need to provide evidence-based data for the launch of Heifer International Envision Africa’s Agricultural 2030 programme.
It also sort to understand youth participation in Agriculture and its impact on food security as well as the challenges that had led to decreasing farm productivity and dwindling incomes among Africa’s smallholder farmers.
It was conducted in 11 African countries; Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe with each country contributing at least five to 13 per cent of the total datasets.
Madam Yanyi-Akofur said a total of 29,954 youths, 299 smallholder farmers and 110 agriculture-focused organisations completed an online survey during the research.
She said agriculture contributed heavily to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of many African countries and employed more than half of the rural population across the continent, hence the need to invest in agriculture.
« One interesting thing is that in Ghana only 12 per cent of the youth are using any form of technology in agriculture. In fact, Ghana is the least performing country out of the 11 countries that we studied, we need to find and do an in depth analysis to find out why this is different elsewhere,” she said.
Mr Paul Siameh, the Director of Agricultural Extension at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, said Ghana’s ratio of extension officers to farmers is at a 1:706, an improvement of the 2017 statistic where it was 1:1,900 farmers.
The accepted standard is 1:500 farmers.
He said urbanisation had also led to more non-farm jobs, which had reduced Ghana’s agricultural competitiveness, causing an increasing need for imported foods.
The report recommended a review of existing programmes targeted at smallholder farmers and youth to help determine strategies that supported the African youth farmer with the use to technology.
It suggested stakeholder engagement with government to provide access to land tax waivers and fiscal policies that deliberately supported youth in agriculture.