In an effort to reshape the narrative surrounding agriculture as a career choice for the youth, stakeholders in Malawi gathered at the Youth Engagement in Agripreneurship: Landscape Analysis Stakeholder Validation Meeting to discuss the involvement of youth in agriculture under the program called Ukama Ustawi.
Ukama Ustawi which supports climate-smart agriculture and livelihoods in East and Southern Africa, is working towards fostering youth agripreneurship in Malawi.
The meeting was conducted on Thursday at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe. It shed light on the prevailing misperceptions hindering youth participation in agriculture and explored potential solutions to overcome these challenges.
Speaking with reporters, Director at the Department of Agriculture Extension in the Malawi Ministry of Agriculture Pearson Soko said that Agriculture remains the hub of this country and if a person turns a blind eye on agriculture, he or she can face hunger.
Soko added that being on the meeting has helped to build on Malawian Agenda 2063, which features agriculture as the first pillar .
He acknowledged the need for a paradigm shift and greater integration of technology to attract youth to the sector.
On his part, Kirk Development Consultants Amon Kabuli revealed that youth participation in agriculture, especially as agripreneurs, remains low across all districts.
He mentioned some of the challenges as skewed gender ratio, with more male youth involved due to better access to capital.
On her part, Senior Researcher – Gender and Social Inclusion for International Water Management Institute Dr Karen Nortje – highlighted opportunities for youth engagement in agripreneurship, such as government involvement.
Nortje said stressed the importance of initiatives like training incubation programs, access to credit, and mentorship for young agripreneurs matters most.
He emphasized the need to invest in the skills and knowledge of the youth, turning them into catalysts for positive transformation in the agricultural sector.
“Fostering youth agripreneurship in Malawi is imperative for both the present and the future. Empowering young individuals to engage in agricultural entrepreneurship not only addresses current challenges in the agricultural sector but also cultivates a resilient and sustainable future for the nation,” added Dr. Nortje.
Dr. Kristin Davis, Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), emphasized the necessity for a clear sequencing and action plan.
She called for an integrated approach that combines learning and financial support, emphasizing the need to bridge the gap between knowledge and skills while incorporating technology into youth programs.
“What is the clear sequencing that is required. Is it training first or funding or something else? From the talks today we realized that we need to follow an integrated approach which combines a combination of learning and finances. The link between knowledge and skills needs to be bridged. A needs assessment needs to incorporate capacity and innovation. Above all, we need to implement what has been planned and to integrate technology in youth and other programs,” concluded Dr. Davis.
According to the 2018 Malawi Census, 50% of the population falls within the 10–35-year age bracket, presenting a demographic rich in energy, creativity, and innovation.
Ukama Ustawi, which supports climate-smart agriculture and livelihoods in East and Southern Africa, is working towards fostering youth agripreneurship in Malawi. In Malawi the program is being implemented in four districts of Chikwawa, Balaka, Nkhotakota and Nkhatabay .