⇓ More from ICTworks

Can Technology Entice Youth to be Farmers?

By Guest Writer on August 31, 2015


The rural-urban migration in the developing world has created a large strain not only on governments, but also on public infrastructure. Many urban areas are ill-equipped to handle the influx of people searching for work, stressing resource allocation, housing markets, and social welfare programs. Yet, agriculture can provide young people an opportunity to move out of poverty, if they are properly supported by decision makers and by policy.

The world is realizing that we need farmers and that we need young people to be farmers. At the ICTforAg conference, Nira Desai of the World Cocoa Foundation pointed out there are less cocoa farmers right now than a decade ago because cocoa farmers are not being replaced by a younger generation.

Youth are not drawn to backbreaking work because they don’t feel they have secure access to land, support of elders, or a career path that will lead them to a better quality of life. With high youth unemployment rates found in urban areas, rural agriculture is a possible solution. ICTs present the unique solution of connecting these young farmers to opportunities in agriculture in order to create a more knowledgeable and better-supported community.

Creating Connections and Efficiencies

ICTs cannot change the nature of farming – the physically tough work can’t be sugar-coated – but they can help young people to work more efficiently. Building platforms to share advice and technique across regions is a method that has found success.

Across South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, organizations are seeing positive effects of their video projects, which demonstrate and explain the best practices. Additionally, the videos can feature local farmers, helping to highlight and to support the featured farmer and to encourage engagement with the project. To build status in the community, many organizations also are introducing e-Mentorship programs that encourage exchanges of knowledge and support for farmers new to the field, which can help mitigate feelings of isolation.

Providing farmers with necessary information is another method for supporting young farmers, and ICTs also have built successful programs that can provide SMS subscribers helpful information ranging from market prices to best practices advice. In order to better serve rural Nigerian farmers, Bassy Archibong of Chemonics helped create a system of free phone calls to farmers that gives them detailed the weather forecasts around which they can plan their farming activities.

Moreover, ICTs can have unintended benefits, as well: Internet access centers built near farms have become hubs for young people to go online, connect, and socialize with other young, local farmers. These projects are working. Today’s rural farmers have vastly different farming realities than those of previous generations, and supplying them with current information enable them to be better decision-makers.

More Than Technology

While these projects are exciting, it’s important to recognize that ICTs can do more to support and, perhaps, entice the next generation of farmers. Organizations are working towards professionalizing the field in order to provide a career path for young people and, thereby, support the local communities. ICTs are reinforcing these efforts by seeking to engage and connect local farming populations with these organizers.

Leadership positions present a viable career move for young people wanting to work in agriculture, but in different capacities. It’s necessary to recognize the multiple ways that youth can engage with agriculture beyond land cultivation. Providing farmers with daily or technical knowledge is beneficial, but it’s essential that the younger generation understand the benefit of being more politically aware. Educating farmers about policy and governmental procedures through online courses, workshops in data centers, or distance learning are more ways that ICTs can support and expand the agricultural field.

ICTs cannot override the preexisting system that has forgotten and ignored rural farmers for too long, but they can educate, connect and create a community of young farmers who work smarter and who work together.

Cassiane Cladis is a Masters student at University of Colorado Boulder and an intern at FHI 360

Filed Under: Agriculture
More About: , , , , , ,

Written by
This Guest Post is an ICTworks community knowledge-sharing effort. We actively solicit original content and search for and re-publish quality ICT-related posts we find online. Please suggest a post (even your own) to add to our collective insight.
Stay Current with ICTworksGet Regular Updates via Email

One Comment to “Can Technology Entice Youth to be Farmers?”

  1. Hi All,
    I totally agree with you. We have convinced on the fact that ICT goes beyond providing education, connect and create a community of young farmers who work smarter and who work together.
    an year after the launching of IITA Youth agripreneurs program, an idea came in my mind to setup a blog and a Facebook page where the IITA Youth agreneurs may share their experiences with others youth across Africa with the main objective of encouraging them to pursue the agricultural field.
    Beyond a simple exchange, I found useful to add the capacity building and market access option to the blog. unexpectedly the blog and Facebook have become a source of inspiration for the entire African countries for their youth program.
    today the blog is being use for online market, capacity building request portal, agricultural marketing platform and more. for keeping this story real I’d decided to not customize the blog and Facebook until the adoption of IITA Youth agripreneurs program accross the African subsaharan countries.
    for more information: https://iitayouthagripreneurs.wordpress.com/