Text reads Supporting Sustainable and Compassionate Solutions Field Workers at Njoro, Kenya - Photo Credit: Petr Kosina/CIMMYT

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Agricultural Training for Africa's Youth

Africa’s economy is driven heavily by agriculture. What we do to prepare young Africans today will improve their economic future tomorrow. Therefore, we must invest heavily in training the upcoming generation with the most effective and sustainable agricultural practices available.

80% of Africans are engaged in agricultural businesses but relatively little attention is given to training their youth in profitable agricultural practices. Doing so at scale could significantly grow the economic future of the continent. The young tend to be receptive and more ready to adapt to promising advances in farming practices and information technologies than those more entrenched in traditional farming methods.

This does not discredit generations of knowledge and innovations discovered from African farmers. Much has been learned through ancestors bearing extreme difficulties – all of which holds great value. Education should seek to bring collaboration between the old and the new in practice and in dialogue. Efforts to train the young to bear the fruits of research and market-based agricultural findings can be passed on to their elders as well as the reverse.

New seed development can result in doubling or even tripling product yields per hector. Digital soil analyzers, production of new energy, improved methods of irrigation, sustainable practices and lessening toxic inputs can contribute greatly to moving farmers from subsistence farming to earning decent profits. Recently, through mobile devices, apps and handhelds, Africa’s young have educational opportunities and competitive advantages never before possible.

Efforts are being made to target Africa’s young for market-based agricultural training. Existing initiatives, however, have not been brought to scale to demonstrate the great benefit that such training could produce. Countrywide school curriculums teaching the best of old and new agricultural techniques would have an enormous impact on economies. Partnerships between public, private and civil sectors could help streamline “handheld learning” and business growth at a fraction of what it would have previously cost. With enough interest, planning and capital investment, the agricultural training of the young could not only increase the income of an upcoming generation of Africans, but also increase their contribution to an improved world market.

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