The Sunday Mail
I welcome you dear reader to this inaugural installment of our weekly column, Farmer’s Diary.
We will be exploring all things farming.
The purpose is to share knowledge and exchange experiences on farming and help each other to be more efficient and productive farmers.
After all, “kugara nhaka kuona dzevamwe” (we become better by observing how others do things).
When I decided to go into commercial farming as a young professional, seven years back, I did not just have the task of convincing my spouse that I was going into a noble business.
I equally had to face a barrage of questions from many of my friends and colleagues who were sceptical if I had made the right decision to consider farming as a business.
Seven years on, my wife has not only supported me, but has also joined in and brought in new perspectives inspired by her engineering background.
This is a story for another day.
It occurred to me that farming was not so “cool” for many of my friends in the late twenties and early forties.
I vividly recall one friend quipping that, “We are really getting old, even one of us is now a farmer.”
It is not surprising that farming either as a career option or business is not a popular option among the youth.
After all, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the global average age of farmers is 60-years-old.
This means there are simply not enough young successful farmers to look up to. Farming is typically viewed as a rural venture for old people and one where people go into it as a last resort and often on a subsistence basis.
This brings me to my next point.
In the last seven years, I have been into commercial farming, specialising in pedigree livestock breeding, particularly boran cattle, boer goats and damara sheep, I have witnessed a growing interest among young people aged between 30 and 40 years in venturing into commercial farming.
I now spend hours on end responding to inquiries on our farming Facebook Page, on how young people can break the barriers and go into farming.
We need to realise that if Zimbabwe is ever to address the perennial food-related challenges such as food insecurity, malnutrition, and increasing food prices, in a sustainable manner, there is urgent need to make sure that more and younger people are incentivised to go into farming and remain there.
In my view, the primary duty to ensure that young people are attracted to farming lies with the Government.
There should be immediate and deliberate policy measures and specific programme interventions aimed at making young people view farming as viable and a fashionable career and business option.
This is more imperative considering that Zimbabwe, just like other African countries, has over 60 percent of its whole population below 24-years-old.
In addition, families are also centres of nurturing future farmers and luring them to take farming as a career and business option from an early age.
Hence the saying: farmers beget farmers.
One of the major impediments for young people to go into commercial agriculture is cost and, thus, access to farming land. For Zimbabwe, the Land Reform Programme will have failed if it does not include a deliberate policy to promote access to land by young people.
One of the ways in which Zimbabwe and other African countries can harvest on the demographic dividend is through attracting young people into farming and supporting them to become successful farmers.
After all, young people can easily harness technological advancements, including social media tools to enhance their productivity and profitability.
Social media tools facilitate access to information and exchange information, including experiences and existing opportunities.
As the president of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina observed, the next generation of millionaires and billionaires in Africa will be farmers.
We need to get more young people into farming.
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