Around May this year, there was a video that went viral on social media and reintroduced the conversation on how agriculture could be made more “attractive” to the youth in Africa.
The video was from the 2018 Youth Employment in Agriculture conference in Kigali, Rwanda. In the video, a young woman presented a number of factors that governments, donors and other non-State actors should consider when promoting agriculture among the youth.
As expected from viral social media content, the video got mixed reactions from the public in general, and from professionals in the sector. Some professionals viewed this take as an oversimplification of a complex matter, while on the other hand, some youth thought she had a valid point.
A major factor to be considered is that of access to agricultural land. Whether you ask experts or young people themselves, there is broad agreement about the impact of access to land. A lot of youth in Kenya, and especially in rural areas, do not have access to land on which they can practise agriculture.
Family land is often either formally registered under the name of the male head of the family, or customarily held by the same patriarch. In most instances, the young adults in the family only enjoy actual ownership rights through inheritance.
With limited access to land, the youth are even less incentivised to go into agriculture.
Some youth access land through informal lease arrangements.
With the dynamics of accessing agricultural land mentioned above, one solution that we should be looking into is popularising formal land leasing agreements.
The way out of this challenge could be “localising” lease agreements by directly engaging rural communities to develop land leasing procedures that are informed by the realities these communities face, and can respond to the challenges the informal arrangements present.