For 20 years, Sub-Saharan Africa has been leading in Agricultural production across the globe. However, there have been indirect effects resulting in escalating employment opportunities in other sectors. The big question is; Are African farmers young?
Many people perceive age as a risk factor for African farmers. They say since the majority of African farmers are old, this could sabotage the Agricultural growth in Africa. Also, it can be because young farmers are turning to other forms of employment. Many sources reveal that the average age for African farmers is 60 years and above. However, there is no legit evidence to support this.
In an attempt to comprehend this logic, The Conversation referred to the national survey data of Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Nigeria, and Tanzania. They obtained the data from the government statistical office from each state. They analyzed the age distribution of employment both on and off the farm and made comparisons right from 2000.
Exposing the Fact
After analyzing the statistics, The Conversation discovered that the belief that the majority of the farmers in Africa were over 60 years was not true. Instead, they learned that the statistics revealed most of the farmers to be 32 to 39 years. Even despite omitting fresh adults of ages 15 to 24, the average age limit for farmers is still not 60. Therefore, the mean age of farmers seems to be the same even when they include young adults and elderly people of up to 60 years.
As a result, only 3% of sub-Saharan African farmers are age 65 and above. It is also important to note that just half of this group are active farmers who engage in farming. The mean age of the farm workforce increased by one or two years or remained the same over the past years. These were according to the statistic of Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia. However, the age did not change in Nigeria whereas Tanzania recorded a slight decline.
In simple terms, the age of African farmers barely increases, especially since each year, 7 to 10 million young Africans join the agricultural workforce. Hence, despite the massive recruitment of young people to other jobs, more are still joining farming. This proves that aging is not a risk factor in farming.
How Can Farming Benefit Young People?
Although off-farm employment is providing greater opportunities, farming is still the largest employer, mostly for people in rural areas. It is true that the majority of people are seeking off-farm jobs and quitting farming. However, most young people are also practicing farming. What is missing nevertheless is adequate for skilled young people and finance.
One of the most effective ways to make farming profitable would be to resource the youths in rural areas that are already farming. It is so obvious that young people will flock to agriculture when it makes good money.
Another strategy is to encourage skilled young Africans to apply their expertise. As such, they can address the many policies, regulatory, and financing barriers that inhibit them from starting and expanding agribusiness firms that provide important services to African farmers.