AG1.global’s sponsors are supporting young farmers in Zambia. – AG1.global

A massive opportunity exists for the Youth of this Continent in agriculture. Read the article below & see what some of the top argi influencers are doing to support and encourage the Youth to embrace agriculture and ensure generations of successful farmers across the nation.

Amiran Zambia:

Africa has the youngest population in the world. Low profitability, land insecurity and high risks are just some of the reasons Africa’s Youth are leaving rural areas to seek jobs in cities. This migration could see Africa with a shortage of farmers in the future. Amiran is aware that agriculture is one of Zambia’s biggest economic sectors, generating income and securing livelihoods for many families and moreover providing much of the population with food. It has rightly been said that Zambia could be the breadbasket of the region and Zambia’s Youth have the chance to turn this opportunity into a reality.

At Amiran Zambia, we believe that with the increased use of quality inputs, access to information through say social media, young people can more easily access the appropriate technologies to improve the profitability of agriculture. Mobile phone use in Zambia is growing rapidly, and people are now much more connected to sources of information. Using these channels can allow the Youth to modernise agriculture and to adopt the best Farming practises to maximise yields and income. The Youth that Amiran have been working with, have the energy and vigour to look at crop diversity and rotations, soil conservation, water conservation techniques, market information and other relevant information to improve the way we use the available land and other resources.

Farming has sometimes been portrayed as outdated, unprofitable and hard work. But we have seen at Amiran that there are significant benefits of using Farming and agriculture as a career, with opportunities for greater market engagement, innovation and treating “Farming as a Business”. Young people or should we say young farmers can focus on changing this perception and turning agriculture in Zambia into a rewarding and exciting industry.

Making agriculture profitable requires that the costs of farming and doing business are reduced while at the same time achieving productivity increases. The Youth have this opportunity to change some traditions and to move Farming into the modern era. Amiran firmly believes that the timely use of quality inputs combined with good agricultural practices will improve yields and incomes and make the future bright. In the case of working with Amiran the future can be Bright Orange!! Our Knowledge Your Success.

ATS Agrochemicals Limited:

Agriculture presents multiple business and employment opportunities ranging from production, supply, distribution, processing, transportation, retail, packaging, manufacturing and many support activities within the value chain. In Zambia, Agricultural potential remains untapped to date, presenting one of the most lucrative business opportunity for Youth.

Echoing the words of current ADB President Akinwumi Adesina and I quote ‘Agriculture cannot afford to remain an old traditional subsistence activity. It must become the next big investment magnet, a package of bankable projects that will turn some of our youths into millionaires through their innovation and enterprise.’

Zambia has abundant land, human capital, good climate and water resources to make it happen! The time to venture in NOW.

Starke Ayres:

Research findings from the Mastercard Foundation suggest that despite Africa being in the middle of a global economic crisis brought on by the current Global Health Pandemic (Covid-19), a massive opportunity exists for the Youth of this continent in agriculture. Africa’s population is currently recorded at 1.2 billion with over 60% being classified as “youth” (below the age of 25). The World Bank believes that by 2035, 350 million new jobs will be needed and furthermore, Africa’s population is growing faster than jobs are being created.

In Zambia, the figures and trends are similar, but the Youth do not realize the opportunities that Agriculture and in particular horticulture can offer. In part this has to do with a lack of access to information and support. In Zambia the structures around agricultural extension services need to be better supported in order to encourage improved information flow. With the vast amount of investment in new technologies to support Farming in Africa, as stakeholders, we need to start thinking out of the box and start using technology to try and bridge this information gap and support our rural Youth to become more digitally prepared to learn new skills.

The government needs to re-think how they deliver extension services to farmers and prioritize the development of Youth. Currently, the Ministry of Agriculture spending millions of Kwacha on subsidizing inputs mostly for maize growers – a practice that has gone on for many years without adding any significant value to our agricultural gross domestic product or improving yields. Now is the right time to try something new and look to innovative ways to drive a new forward-thinking agricultural revolution that focuses on the Youth of Zambia as well as creating rural jobs and livelihoods. The rural Youth require training and skills transfer if they are to leverage these opportunities and finding the right channels to support the dissemination of this is critical, but this requires buy-in and a completely new view from government and the way they use their extension services to support this sector. The ability to deliver this at scale to make a difference is important. NGOs and Donors can offer “project support” to pilot and test ideas, but we require public-private sector support to build the scale that we require if we are to find the solutions to the unemployment challenges we face and create a more representative middle-income economy.

Technologies such as cloud computing, soil sensors and drones have changed food production and processing, making digital literacy a key component in profitable Farming. These technologies can create windows of opportunity for new farmers to maximise not only on-farm opportunities, but also other opportunities along the value chain such as processing, aggregation, etc. With challenges from climate change, these new technologies can help reduce the risks associated with changing weather patterns by providing new and improved farming techniques and technologies to our farmers.

Access to current and even potentially online support can help deliver more profitable solutions. The key to keeping the Youth on the land or in industries associated with Farming, it to ensure that it provides them with a profitable and fulfilling opportunity. Learning new farming practices can also lead to increasing the breadth of the crops we grow, helping to create new local markets as well as to service adjacent export markets. Supporting communities through improved family nutrition and creating awareness around the importance of eating more balanced diets of vegetables and fruits will lead to better health outcomes for all. A healthy population leads to more productivity.

Sitali Martin Kumoyo from Nako Farms in Barlaston Park, Lusaka can be seen below in the fields. At 21 years old, Sitali, a 1st year student at NRDC is an excellent vegetable farmer,growing not only cabbages but eggplants, beetroots and giant rape (just to name a few). After completing his education in 2016, Sitali had nothing to do, so he decided to join the farming practice at Nako Farms, which has been in existence since 2005. He could not hide his satisfaction with growing Starke Ayres Kilimo F1 (Cabbage), Black Beauty (Egg Plant) and Red Atlas (Beetroot).

AG1.Global are supporting Zambian farmers and encouraging our Youth to take up Farming by offering vegetable production guides and other production information through the AG1.global web site as well as through our own extension services on the ground.

Zambia Centre for Conservation Farming (ZCCF)

Any civilisation has to live in harmony with nature for it to thrive. Our predecessors were forced out of trees by hunger as a result of population boom into a new food strategy; gathering fruits, roots, leaves and scavenging carcasses left by other predators. Gradually the feeding strategies improved, using crude weapons to hunt rodents and small animals while maintaining an omnivore menu by simply adapting. Man’s ancestors increased their efficiency to a brutal practice of hunting big game at the start of the last ice age, 90,000 years ago which was celebrated in cave paintings and elevated our diet to elitism. And here we are challenged by hunger again, armed with the greatest population and the youngest inhabitants the earth never held before and the best technology like never before.

Young people, or the youth represent the sunrise and old people represent the sunset; they have experience, dreams and a message. It is the Young people with the sunrise that give meaning to any message, translate it into life and its fulfilment.

Civilisations that became great were driven by young people. Joseph of Egypt fed the whole world including his own people at only 30 years old. When we look at King David, he did many psalms and proverbs in his 30s and was already a shepherd at 17 years of age. Jesus Christ changed the law in his 30s that govern our conduct today. Martin Luther King, Bob Marley, and Tupac Shakur all left a lasting impression and influence on our history while in their youth. Close to home, Kenneth David Kaunda led Zambia to Independence at 37 years.

Many of us in Africa know that farming is hard work and conservation farming is about digging holes in the ground, as Guy Scott, former Vice President of Zambia once remarked of its most feverish promoters Peter James Aagaard and Dutch Gibson ‘as two old men digging holes’. The young especially, stay away from farming seeking a pen job in the tall buildings and the paper trail of numerous NGOs.

We are yet to learn that conservation is more than ripping up the ground and digging holes on the land, but provides benefits that extend to more money in farmers pockets and a balanced ecosystem. It is described in 1 Kings Chapter 4, when Solomon begins to say that you have to have information about soil which is life and animals. Livestock is one of the greatest needs of mankind; every party that people attend, feast or funeral you will have to have all types of meat. Wine comes from the land, bread comes from the land, and oil comes from the land.

Conservation farming is about knowing how the trees work, seed and knowing seasons because seasons are moods that determine what time to work. It’s like a marriage, and in marriage you look for a woman and care for her knowing that she will bear children to continue your posterity. The woman will give you sima when you provide money. Young people must begin to see conservation farming as a love affair, a young man must look at land as the first wife. It’s that wife that will provide for the second wife. The culture orientation and borrowed today has seen many of us invest all our savings into a plash wedding ceremony; a day’s feast. The same resources that can be used to secure land to grow for the family and to sell.

Culture is about knowing formulae and values. It’s a system of the people’s ways. When you are good at growing food, you will control the people. Conservation farming system is a cultural tool that the young must possess and look at farming as having influence on the people. Many young people admire movie stars, musicians and lately social media Socialites. Imagine you control the culture! Herein agriculture.

Young men and women must begin to look at the land as the first possession, how to nurture it, how to tender livestock and understand how to live in harmony with nature. That is the beginning of civilisation my friends. Land in its belly has so many things; minerals, water, animals and food. Young women and men have made few mistakes and therefore have got a lot to learn and old people have a lot of experiences which most times let go of their strength and cannot be relied on to feed the masses.

Any war has never taken the old people to the frontline. Some of our young men and women are delivered back to their parents in body bags. The war on poverty, illiteracy, hunger and disease is all linked to the land and the foot soldiers are the young as well. Therefore, young people must look to the land as the major source of influence, leadership, money and power. Imagine a young Joseph of Egypt having interpreting Pharaoh and sorted out the food crisis. He becomes Prime Minister.

Young people must look at farming as bringing the land, trees and animals together into the economy. People must eat, celebrate and mourn, all these call for feasts and ceremonies that demand what comes out of the land. Land must be looked at religiously and as a being, it produces for you. Land will give you political influence because people must eat, be dressed and celebrate. Young people must become
political by using the land to grow food, earn money and respect and they can take care of people’s needs including healing because food is medicine.

In Zambia, young people must wake up and realise that we have a lot of virgin land. The world is running out of this precious resource and are looking to pregnant and vast but empty Africa. The return to eating naturally grown food from the soil is imminent. This must preoccupy the mind of the young people today.

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