Boosting Youth Interest in Agriculture: The Impact of Education and Training

Boosting Youth Interest in Agriculture The Impact of Education and Training
Agricultural Principles

Ifeoluwa Abulude

Agricultural Extension Specialist

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Agricultural education and training: The key to interest youth in agriculture

Dwindling interest of young people in agriculture: the need for agricultural extension education

Despite the laudable (potential) contributions of agriculture to international and national development, the sector is increasingly threatened by inequitable access to the market due to factors such as poor road transportation, flooding, and unfavorable agricultural and rural development policies. Other factors include the high cost of raw materials, limited access to credit, inadequate extension services, and limited access to irrigation, processing, and storage facilities (Shuaibu et al., 2018). Arguably, there is a need for innovation, new technologies, and improved practices to attain agricultural development and food system transformation. However, the dearth of education and training for farmers has led to a wide gap between innovation and improved practices. This places a high credence on the involvement of youth in agriculture (Ridha et al., 2017).

The challenge of making youth interested in agriculture

The interest of this young population in agriculture is dwindling (Harniti & Anwarudin, 2018). They perceived agriculture as a dirty, low-income-generating venture and that the possibility of attaining a fulfilling future in agriculture is a mirage; hence, they considered it a secondary occupation, in extreme cases, irrelevant (Johnson et al., 2015). Secondary school students have attributed low societal value and income to agriculture (Adejoh et al., 2016). This has negatively influenced their decision to pursue agriculture as a career in the future. Therefore, emphasis must be placed on youth participation in this sector (Fabiyi et al., 2015) by encouraging them to study agriculture as a course at the tertiary level and ultimately take up a career and/or invest in agriculture after graduation. This is because aged farmers must be replaced with energetic and educated youths. Thus, increasing the adoption rate of technologies, innovations, and improved practices is apt for future food sustainability.

Ifeoluwa et al. (2021) conducted a study among 155 secondary school students in Ondo State, Nigeria. The findings show that only 3.2% of the respondents aspire to become farmers or ventures in agriculture. Of the respondents, 38.7% desired to become a doctor, 28.4% lawyers, and 3.5%  engineers. This result was no surprise. It is a popular aspiration for young people to become professionals in fields such as disciplines. One major highlight of the study is that 100% of the students pointed out that they had never attended any agricultural education programs before. This could be because such a program has never been conducted in schools, making it impossible for students to attend.

Furthermore, regarding students’ perceptions of agriculture, the participants opined that farming was for poor people. They also agreed that it was profitable and good only for the male gender. It was interesting to note that respondents agreed that agriculture is a dirty occupation and that there is no pride in it. It can be deduced that the respondents understood farming to be profitable. However, they hold negative sentiments toward farming and agriculture.

Unfortunately, these findings agree with those of others investigating this issue. (Johnson et al., 2015; Adejoh et al., 2016; Harniti & Anwarudin, 2018). The low intent of youth to venture into agriculture and various agribusiness has led to various agricultural initiatives globally targeted toward encouraging youth participation in agriculture. For instance, the ((KPMI) translates to Indonesia’s Young Farmers’ Community (Harniti & Anwarudin, 2018). Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) in Nigeria. However, students were convinced that there were prospects in agriculture. However, most of those offering agriculture science subjects could be doing so because they believe they are easy to study. Most students nurture the conviction that farming is for poor people, only for the male gender, and that there is no pride in the agricultural profession.

Recommendations – How to make agriculture a more appealing job for young people

Non-formal agricultural education and training are critical to influencing young people’s interest in agriculture. Deliberate actions must be taken both in and out of school to encourage and stimulate students to venture into agriculture.

International organizations, policymakers, governments, NGOs, and individuals should promote school-based agricultural education and training to expose the young population to various agricultural innovations. This would empower them with the necessary skills and improved practices to become change agents that will transform agriculture and the food system.

The federal and state Ministry of Education should review the secondary school curriculum and reinstate agricultural science as a compulsory subject among students. This could reduce students’ negative perceptions and improve their attitudes toward agriculture.

Through Parent Teachers’ Association (PTA) meetings, parents and family members should be encouraged to allow their children and wards to study agricultural-related disciplines and ultimately venture into agriculture. In addition to the training of adult rural farmers, agricultural extension agents should also be used as subject matter specialists to facilitate school-based agricultural education and extension programs in both rural and urban areas.


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