Zimbabwe’s youth population account for sixty percent (60%) of the national population (Zim-Stats 2013). Youth in agriculture offer a potential dynamic workforce that is innovative. They have a high uptake of technology know-how and the ability to take on significant levels of risk. The agricultural sector presents huge opportunities for the creation of employment to absorb a significant section of the youth. They could underwrite food security for the present and future generations. The Zimbabwe Transitional Stabilization Programme (ZTSP) (October 2018-December 2020) aims to transform Zimbabwe into an upper middle-income economy by the year 2030 in consonant with the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN family.
The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement’s Draft Comprehensive Policy Framework calls for youth main-streaming in agriculture.
In view of the above, the Ministry established a Youth in Agriculture Unit (Youth Desk) in order to integrate young farmers in the sector. The Agricultural sector is yet to fully exploit the potential of the youth and it remains largely unattractive for some. The situation is exacerbated by perception of agriculture as a last career of last resort, one of drudgery and low monetary benefits. Information on access to markets, factors of production including land and financing models remain extremely limited hindering adequate engagement of youth in agriculture.
The global population is expected to increase from 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050, with youth (15-35) accounting for about 14% of this total (ILO, 2014). This rapid rise in population also raises an equal increase in demand for food. It is a given that there is worsening global food insecurity especially in rural communities. As a result, food insecurity has been anchored within the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, as Goal 1-Ending poverty in all its forms and Goal 2- Ending hunger to achieve food and nutrition security and promote sustainable agriculture (SDG, 2030). It is indeed a welcome development by some agro-firms like Seed-Co that step forward to support youth in agriculture through availing scholarship funds for them. The Youth in Agriculture Strategy is a policy-enhancing thrust in order to make this effort a reality.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
- Re-branding agriculture as an attractive career option for the youth
- To introduce mentorship programmes that guide the youth on making a living from agriculture.
- To support the country’s economic reform through creating an enabling environment for youth participation at all levels of the agricultural value chain.
- To address compelling evidence of ageing farmer population in the country and its implications
- To optimize local production and thus help reduce Zimbabwe import bill agriculture products
To present the youth as the vanguard of the new paradigm emphasis in agriculture.
- To help reduce rural to urban migration.
- Mainstreaming youth living with disability in the appropriate spaces along the value chain in agriculture.
- Supporting agricultural college graduates and students’ avenues to innovative funding mixes
- Encouraging skilled youths abroad to contribute towards agriculture and economic growth through empowerment schemes such as livestock banks, dairy and venture capital projects
- The Youth Desk is driven by the principle that every citizen of Zimbabwe should have access to adequate, safe and nutritious food to eat (1996 World Food Summit, Zimbabwe Constitution, 2013).
- The Youth Desk believes that young people should feed the nation with huge investment on agricultural production and productivity.
- Food security for all citizens is a pathway towards national peace, stability and economic development.
- Patriotism, discipline and entrepreneurship are three pillars of production and productivity.
- Inclusivity is a vehicle against leaving anyone behind.
- Introduced Annual Young Champion Farmer Awards
- Youth Participation in Field Days and Agricultural Shows
- Launch of online markets and ICT in Agriculture Application throughout the country, Musika Solutions and iFAM
- Building Youth in Agriculture data base
- Entrepreneurship Training at Agricultural Colleges
- Coordinating Youth in Agriculture Strategy
- Launch of Agricultural Growth Poles or Agropoles with the aim to promote value addition in the sector
The Youth Desk is thankful to the support given to the youths in the agricultural sector by the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe His Excellency Cde E.D Mnangagwa. Commemorating the International Youth Day in 2018 the President acknowledged the key role played by the youth towards the achievement of Vision 2030:
I am confident about our future because I believe in the talent, creativity and potential of our youth. As government, it is our role to empower and support you through providing diverse educational and employment opportunities. We must open the doors for you to fulfil your vast potential, and over the next five years, that is exactly what we will do. Let us always remember that it is by empowering the youth that our new Zimbabwe will be built.
Chief Youth Programs Coordinator
Office number 10
Department of RESEARCH AND Specialist services
5th Street Extension
P.O Box CY 550, Causeway
Tel: 04 797 400 – 4/ 0242764 295(Direct Line)
Cell +263 773 836 194\+263 712 805 433