Involvement of youth in agriculture can curb violence

AS the pillar of both the domestic and the export economy, the agricultural sector in Tanzania engages 80 per cent of the labour force, which equaled approximately 13.495 million in 1999, while providing 49 per cent of the country’s GDP.

In recent months, much has been said about the acute shortage of tomatoes in the Tanzanian market, where the few farmers who managed to time their harvest made a massive kill, some becoming overnight millionaires as the demand for the product increased.

This, I believe, should act as a wakeup call for more Tanzanians, especially the youth, to engage in the lucrative business, instead of flocking in urban areas looking for employment.

Tanzania, like many others in developing countries experiences an overwhelming numbers of rural-urban migrations of youth who engage themselves in petty trades and non-productive informal businesses.

The youths in the country, if properly convinced, can provide an opportunity for increased economic development through their involvement in agriculture, which is the main activity in rural areas.

The agricultural sector should therefore provide opportunities for the youths to fully realise their potentials and to access those opportunities available to them along the agricultural value chain The self-initiated youth initiatives in agriculture are indications of pivotal role played by the sector in reducing unemployment, under-employment and poverty.

Although agriculture is the largest economic sector where more than 75 per cent of the population is engaged, the sector has been experiencing a wide gap in youth’s involvement.

Engaging youth in agriculture has been a prominent issue in the past years, and has been raised up in the development agenda, as there is growing concern worldwide that young people have become disenchanted with agriculture, to the extent that youth participation in agriculture has been noted to dwindle every year.

Youth represent about 45 per cent (48 million) of the total population of the East African Community’s (EAC) Partner States, and in the next 20 years, this number is expected to grow to about 82 million.

If properly harnessed, the youth have the potential to boost productivity, and strengthen inclusive economic growth. Therefore, engaging the youth across the agri-food chain is increasingly seen as a potential solution to youth unemployment, food insecurity, rural poverty and distress migration for EAC.

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