Presidents Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania and Kenya’s William Ruto are banking on their countries’ demographic dividend by facilitating more youth involvement in agriculture to boost production and serve export markets.
On January 25, President Samia told the Feed Africa Summit in Dakar that her government has set aside 680,000 hectares for agricultural use for women and youth in order to feed the continent.
“We introduced in our Agenda 2030 a policy which will see that by 2030 the agriculture sector in Tanzania contributes 10 percent to the GDP. Who will assist us in accomplishing this? The young people. “As a result, we have launched a program called Build a Better Tomorrow for youth and women,” she said at the heads of state meeting.
“We are taking several steps to attract them to agriculture. First, because the youth do not own land, we are giving them each 10 hectares. “We have identified approximately 680,000 hectares for the youth and women to own,” she said.
Inputs trust fund
In addition, the government established the Agricultural Input Trust Fund to assist youth and women in acquiring inputs such as fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and incubators. There will be training for them.
Tanzanian youth account for 44.5 percent of the population, according to President Samia. According to the 2019 Kenyan population census, they make up 29 percent of the population.
President Ruto, too, emphasized the importance of youth, mechanization, and fertilizer in increasing farm output.
“Tea, one of our best crops, is providing us with good returns. However, for the 1.7 million acres dedicated to tea, we earn the equivalent of 10% of what we do in horticulture. “The difference is our horticultural fertilizer investment,” he explained.
He emphasized the importance of mechanisation, from irrigation to processing
“The participation of young people is significant, as you can see from the returns from the two sectors: The more the young people are in a sector the greater the returns,” the Kenyan leader said.
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Food sovereignty for Africa
Among the 34 heads of state and government at the summit were Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye, DR Congo’s Felix Tshisekedi, and Rwandan Prime Minister Édouard Ngirente.
The speakers all stressed the importance of food security for national stability and security.
They noted that 283 million Africans are hungry. For a continent with 65 percent of the globe’s uncultivated arable land, this need not be the case.
“It’s a shame we’re having this food debate instead of using agriculture to create jobs,” President Ruto said.
Other leaders who shared this sentiment included Dakar 2 Summit host President Macky Sall, who is also the African Union chairperson, Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari, Zimbabwe’s Emerson Mnangagwa, and Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank.
Dr. Adesina announced that the AfDB will commit $10 billion in direct support for food and agriculture programs over the next five years.
“We must strongly support farmers, especially smallholder farmers, a majority of whom are women, and get more young people into agriculture. And we must take agriculture as a business, not a development activity, and boost support to the private sector. We must make agriculture and agribusiness very attractive to the youth. We must support women-owned and women-led agribusinesses,” he said.
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