“When did the future switch from being a promise to being a threat?” Chuck Palahniuk once wondered. This became the case when agriculture became neglected and teachers started using it as a punitive means for students who erred in school. I remember as a small child how I loved to accompany my grandmother to the farm and I could happily plough alongside her for as long as she stayed on the farm but this changed. I vividly remember when I was in primary school we were made to weed the maize on the school farm or in the flower garden whenever we erred. And what did this make us think of our parents who toiled everyday on the farms to earn our daily bread? Our little brains told us that for them, it was a punishment from God and hence our dislike for farming.
With the surging global population against the declining number of farmers, one is only left to wonder, who will feed the world? Farmers have an important role to play than ever and the future depends on what we do today.
To safeguard our future and ensure food security, there is need to invest today in agriculture of the youth and women. Women play a pivotal role in feeding the world as they farm for food while men farm for money – men farmers are only concerned with cash crops for the money while women cultivate food crops which they then use to feed their families. On the other hand, an average farmer is aged above 50yrs leaving the question, where will we be in the next decade when they are old and too weak to work on the farm? We need to get back our youth into farming.
This calls for furtherance of efforts being made by various organizations to promote agriculture. NEPAD’s programme the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) strives to raise agricultural productivity by at least six per cent per year and increasing public investment in agriculture to 10 per cent of national budgets per year. The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP – EU (CTA) has also initiated projects such as ardyis project and web2 trainings aimed at promoting rural development and youth involvement through using Information Communication Technologies. ICT has become a major learning and development skill and the lack of it is considered a serious development gap.
In such initiatives, lies the future of our continent and thus a promise and not a threat. If we don’t plan to invest in agriculture which is the backbone of many African economies, we are planning to fail. It’s never too late to secure the future of our continent.
This’ an award winning essay Hudson Wereh