Food Security Threat as Karongi Youth Shun Farming

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By Daniel Sabiiti

For years, the country has depended on hand hoe farming, which puts off youth to engage in the sector by considering it as a tedious job.

Karongi district risks a crisis in agriculture if immediate measures are not taken to ensure the youth are actively engaged in the sector.

The district authorizes has moved to entice more youth into agriculture, but low numbers of youth in this sector have continued to frustrate coffee growing zones in the western province especially in Karongi district.

Today, the agricultural population is estimated to be a little less than 80% of the total population. The sector meets 90% of the national food needs and generates more than 50% of the country’s export revenues.

Reports indicate that the sector is vested with many unexplored opportunities especially among youth graduates who prefer to get white-collar jobs.

With this at stake, local leaders have expressed concerns over idle and disorderly youths who cannot tap into the existing opportunities to contribute to community development.

“We don’t have specific number of youth in agriculture, but the reality is they don’t use their strengths thus remain unemployed- which in turn affects the community output in agriculture” said Anastase Mbabarira, the Karongi district agriculture officer.

Similar concerns were raised by members of parliament who recently visited Karongi district to access the state of implementation of government development policies countrywide.

Hon. Samuel Musabyimana said that it is evident that youth have turned their back on agriculture rendering it a gap especially in coffee production which is one of the key cash crops in the area.

For youth, like Charles Murindabigwi, reasons are precisely based on the financial capacity even when cultivation land and marshlands are available through family and government ownership.

“It is not that we don’t want to practice agriculture. Currently we are faced with a challenge of access to land. That which is available is family owned and being used by parents, and we cannot afford to rent land” said Murindabigwi.

In the meantime, these challenges, mindset and tendencies of youth underestimating agriculture- which is referred to as a villager’s career among teens may affect Karongi’s coffee production which has won two national coffee cuppers competitions.

Coffee total production rose from 16.9 million kilogrammes during the 2014 to 2015 period to 20.03 million kilos in the last 12 months to June 2016, registering an 18 per cent increase in production, representing an additional 3.1 million kilogrammes.

Way out

Last year, government launched a new drive- Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum (RYAF) aimed at driving youths towards changing the young generation’s mind-set on the agriculture sector.

RYAF is expected to help turn the youth into ‘change agents’ for agricultural transformation. This will make a huge impact in job creation and poverty reduction towards fast-tracking the country’s economic transformation.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, some agribusiness opportunities that the youth can exploit include 10 irrigation sites profiled and deemed suitable for private investment (4,903.80 ha), sub-lease of land developed in the Kigali marshlands (1,000 ha to be available) and agricultural land owned by parents or relatives, among others.

About 61% of Rwandan soil is suitable for agriculture as the soils are fertile. Livestock is one of the Rwanda’s important growth sectors contributing about Rwf 19652million to the GDP. The sector is characterized into cattle, goats, pigs, sheep and poultry.

 

 

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