Show youth that agriculture has jobs for all, urges expert

THE energy of Tanzania’s youth is yet to be exploited to make Tanzania’s economy grow faster than is the case now, according to Dr Gabriel Rugalema, the World Vegetable Centre’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa.

He says their centre sees the energy of young people as one of the resources at the disposal of Tanzania that can and should be harnessed to make the country’s economy grow faster than is the case now.

The centre has its continental office in Arusha. Tanzania has been hosting the centre since 1992. The was originally established to serve the Southern African Development Community focusing on vegetable research and development, but the Arusha office now operates as continental hub of the vegetable research and development programme.

The centre gives expert opinions and expertise to interested African and non-African countries. Dr Rugalema says changing young people’s mindset is important for Tanzania to make bigger strides in developing the agriculture sector and creating jobs for young people.

Young people, he said, still think farming is an occupation of old people or some special group of the population while this is completely erroneous.

“Concerted efforts must be made to make the youth value agriculture and appreciate that farming has varied job opportunities. This must one of national priorities in pursuit of development goals,” he said.

There centre, he said, realized that young people with or without tertiary education paid little attention to farming.

“We have already seen this problem. This is the reason why we started an innovation centre right here in Arusha. We invite graduates who have studied agriculture and those who have not and train them at our innovation centre. They finally see that many job opportunities are in the agriculture sector,” he explains.

Dr Rugalema argues that changing young people’s mind-set in favour of farming is beneficial moves that will make Tanzania achieve its main development goals. Another priority, he argues, in investment in seed development. Their centre does not see quick and successful reforms in agriculture and greater pace in economic growth without investment in seed research and development.

“Agriculture depends on farmers. But farmers must get right and enough seeds in time for the crops they grow. This is the best way to grow agriculture, to grow the economy,” he argues.

The expert also says Tanzania must give priority to growing crops for local and international markets.

“Quality crops are perpetually needed on the market,” is argues adding that that must be one Tanzania’s priority to produce quality crops for markets wherever they are. The fourth priority should be to grow crops according to climatic conditions.

In areas with temperate climate, for example, the focus should be crops that thrive in such conditions, he advised.

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