Africa is a youthful continent with over 920 million people, 60 per cent of whom are between the ages of 15 and 24. A large percentage of these young people live on less than $2 a day.
The estimated youth unemployment rate in sub-Saharan Africa is one of the highest in the world at 40 per cent. The youths are the primary productive human resource of socio-economic development for any economy and, therefore, essential to locate their role in the mainstream development of any nation.
SUA director of planning and development, Prof Damian Gabagambi also called upon graduates in the country to stop waiting for employment while seated at home but should wake up and start engaging in agriculture as it pays.
He was speaking recently at the closure of a youth entrepreneurship and agriculture training at Mkongo agricultural camp at Mkongo in Rufiji District, Coast Region where some 480 youth from various regions were trained.
Prof Gabagambi said that the programme launched at SUA will produce well grounded practitioners and oriented farmers who will be able to establish agribusiness firms across the country upon graduation from the programme.
“Sokoine University is desirous of creating graduates with hands-on-skills in agribusiness by embarking on a special training programme for young graduates in order to curb unemployment problem currently facing the society. In the new land, there will be new established plots where students will be able to develop their learning farms especially on modern agriculture,” he said.
According to him, the purpose of the transformation is to enable SUA to develop capacity to respond adequately to the rapid changes or emerging issues taking place in the agribusiness environment; changes that have a direct impact on its mission and objectives.
“SUA as a leading higher learning institution in the field of agriculture in Tanzania is undoubtedly at the bottom of economic transformation and can play a critical role in the envisaged industrialisation zeal. The original idea of establishing this university in 1984 was to create a professional organisation that would develop and transmit skills and practical expertise necessary for the transformation of the agricultural sector in the country,” he said.
Prof Gabagambi urged the government to allow SUA take control of the Mkongo Camp in Rufiji so that more young graduates and youth are trained more on better ways of modern agriculture for the country’s development with emphasis on young people for self employment.
“Graduates should now forget about employment, what is good for them now is engaging on high valued crops like vegetables, mushrooms but also fish and poultry farming which are areas where they can experience good profit thus transform their lives,” he said.
For his part, executive director of (SUGECO) based in Morogoro at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Revocatus Kimario also emphasised on the youth to work hard and use skills acquired to generate wealth and transform their lives and the citizenry as a whole.
“We provided in collaboration with the Rufiji Basin Development Authority (RUBADA), so we hope that the young people are going to utilise the skills,” he said.
He said that the country needs to undergo youth mindset transformation to change their negative perceptions towards agriculture in a bid to attract more youths in agribusiness undertakings, a move that will curb the current unemployment challenge.
“SUGECO is doing its best to change youth mindset on agriculture, we have trained a number of young people in the country who managed to transform their lives through embarking on modern agriculture, so I hope if these efforts will be accelerated, the country could witness rapid change of the sector,” he said.