THE EDITOR, Sir:
It is commonplace to hear that young people do not want to get into agriculture. I challenge that notion and rubbish it as a big myth.
Young people are still passionate about agriculture and agro-processing. The argument should now be elevated to deal with the impediments that are hindering young people from exercising that passion.
There are 10 key impediments why more young people are not getting involved in agriculture, despite their passion for it:
1. There is limited genuine technical and financial support for young people wanting to get into agriculture, despite there being institutions designated to play that role.
2. There is limited access to arable lands. The cost to invest in protected agriculture is relatively high, and farmers have great difficulty accessing credit.
3. Accessing reliable land-preparation services is difficult and expensive to obtain.
4. There is a huge cost for installing irrigation systems for sustainable crop production.
5. There are serious cases of price manipulation by wholesalers and retailers, and many farmers give in because of the perishable nature of agricultural produce.
6. Agriculture is vulnerable to pests and diseases, natural disasters like hurricanes, drought and flooding, and there is negligible to no access to agriculture insurance.
7. Praedial larceny is rampant, leaving many farmers helpless.
8. There is constant increase in the prices of inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides, which outstrip the price wholesalers and retailers are willing to pay for goods to make agricultural ventures profitable.
9. There is too limited focus on agriculture research and development.
10. Agricultural institutions are not placing enough emphasis on subject areas such as agriculture engineering, agriculture technology, and agri-entrepreneurship to better equip young people with the capacity to go beyond the traditional boundaries of farming and also to make it more attractive.
Greater focus should be placed on incentivising young potential farmers to translate their desire to do well in agriculture into practice. Those young people who, despite all the odds, continue to press on should be encouraged in more tangible ways.
Esher, St Mary