Empowering youth in agriculture for a sustainable future

TANZANIA: TANZANIA, known for its breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage, is also home to a thriving agricultural sector that plays a pivotal role in the country’s economy often referred to as the backbone of the nation’s economy, continues to play a crucial role in its development. In recent years, a significant shift has been observed in this sector, with the youth emerging as a dynamic force for change.

Through education, training, and opportunities provided by programmes like the Kilimo Viwanda Programme by Serengeti Breweries Limited, Tanzania’s youth are driving a revolution in agriculture that holds the promise of transforming the nation’s fortunes.

Agriculture is deeply rooted in the Tanzanian way of life, providing livelihoods to the majority of the population. The sector contributes significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with statistics showing that agriculture accounts for about 30 per cent of the nation’s GDP.

Moreover, it employs approximately 70 per cent of the working population, illustrating its significance in providing employment and income to millions of Tanzanians. Tanzania’s agricultural landscape is diverse, featuring various crops, livestock, and agribusiness opportunities. It is renowned for producing staple crops like maize, rice, and cassava, along with cash crops such as coffee, tea, and cotton.

The country’s vast natural resources and favourable climate have led to the cultivation of a wide range of crops and the rearing of livestock, making it a potential agricultural powerhouse on the continent. In recent years, Tanzania has witnessed a significant shift in the demographics of its agricultural sector, with young people actively participating.

The youth have taken up the challenge to modernise and diversify agriculture, introducing innovative practices and technologies, and embracing agribusiness as a viable career choice. According to statistics from the government, nearly 70 per cent of the country’s population is under the age of 30.

This demographic presents a unique opportunity for the agricultural sector to rejvenate itself, as young people bring fresh perspectives and a willingness to embrace change. However, for this potential to be fully harnessed, it’s essential that these young farmers are well-trained, equipped, and motivated.

Access to quality education and training is pivotal in shaping the future of Tanzania’s agricultural sector. The government, in collaboration with various stakeholders, has been working diligently to provide opportunities for youth to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge in agriculture.

This includes programmes that focus on both theoretical and practical aspects of farming, encouraging young individuals to consider agriculture as a viable and profitable career choice. One remarkable programme that has been instrumental in promoting agricultural education among youth is the Kilimo Viwanda Programme by Serengeti Breweries Limited.

This initiative aims to support underprivileged students pursuing agricultural-related courses and has been running successfully for four years. The programme has sponsored over 200 students, helping to create a pool of knowledgeable professionals in the agricultural sector.

The Government Relations Manager at SBL Ms Neema Temba expresses the company’s dedication to education, sustainability and the growth of Tanzania’s agricultural sector. She noted that, “For the fourth consecutive year, SBL has sponsored a new group of students, with a strong focus on those from farming families, through the Kilimo Viwanda Scholarship Programme,” She explains, “This initiative reflects SBL’s commitment to education, sustainability, and the growth of Tanzania’s agricultural sector,” The Kilimo Viwanda Programme aligns seamlessly with SBL’s commitment to ecofriendly practices within the supply chain.

The students who benefit from this initiative are expected to become champions of sustainable agricultural methods. This is a crucial aspect of modernising Tanzania’s agricultural sector, as it positively influences sourcing and production processes.

As young people gain the skills and knowledge necessary to implement sustainable practices, they can make a significant impact on reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture. Their fresh perspectives and innovative ideas are vital in enhancing efficiency and streamlining agricultural and supply chain operations.

The youth in Tanzania’s agricultural sector represent the promise of a brighter and more sustainable future. With proper training, education, and support, these young farmers have the potential to revolutionise agriculture, increase yields, reduce post-harvest losses, and contribute to food security in the nation.

The Kilimo Viwanda Programme by SBL serves as an example of how private sector involvement can make a profound impact on youth development in agriculture.

The programme is not merely a philanthropic endeavour but a strategic investment that strengthens the agricultural supply chain, fosters innovation, and significantly contributes to the growth of the Tanzanian economy.

As Tanzania moves forward, the youth will be at the forefront of the agricultural renaissance, bringing with them fresh ideas, sustainable practices, and the dedication needed to elevate the sector to new heights.

The partnership between the public and private sectors, along with the efforts of initiatives like the Kilimo Viwanda Programme is pivotal in ensuring that Tanzania’s agricultural legacy remains strong and prosperous for generations to come.

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