Agriculture is, to many young people synonymous with the hoe, dirt, extreme risk and low wages. It is not surprising that few youth are interested in engaging in agriculture, as a form of full time employment or as an investment, (Brac, Youth Watch 2012).
Interestingly, agriculture employs 65 percent of Africa’s labour force and accounts for 32 percent of gross domestic product (World Bank). Therefore, investments to improve agriculture would go a long way in improving the livelihoods of a significant number of people in Africa.
Agriculture is increasingly becoming one of the most attractive sectors for investors in Africa. According to the McKinsey Global Institute the continent has up to 60% of the world’s total arable land with vast production potential. Furthermore, the demand for food is going up day by day due to the increase in world population. This is an opportunity that many young entrepreneurs are seizing.
Twenty four year old Abdu Nsamba is one such entrepreneur. He graduated in 2009 with a degree in Social Work and Social Administration. For two years, he looked for a job but was not able to get one. Today, he is a proud owner of a small farm in Mpigi district, central Uganda. He says,
“It was frustrating looking for a job- I can’t believe I wasted two years. Farming has opened up so many doors for me as I get to interact with people of different trades. Importantly, I can meet all my financial needs; I do not have to worry about tomorrow”.
He narrates, “I ventured into farming to ensure food security for my family and to keep myself busy as I searched for a job. I started in 2011 with half an acre of land. On this, I planted bananas and intercropped with beans and vegetables. One year down the road, I realised that the prices of food were going up and that investing in agriculture as a business could be profitable. In 2012 I expanded to two acres majorly producing maize and beans and ventured into livestock keeping.”
“Today, I am a proud owner of several acres of land and I employ 7 other young people and we are making progress each and every day”.
Is it easy?
Starting an enterprise is no easy feat. It takes a great deal of patience, hard work and creativity. This is no different for an agricultural enterprise. In particular, we have found the formula below to be really helpful:
1. Hard work: It is important to understand that without hard work we cannot get anywhere. How much time you devote to your farming venture will determine how much you reap. One wise man said, “The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Work is the key to success, and hard work can help you accomplish anything.”
2. Networking: In farming, you need networks for a lot of reasons. Networks will avail you with invaluable information on what fertilizers to use, what market is available and what crops are suitable for a particular kind of soil. Networks will also help you to understand and harness new technologies such as drip irrigation and organic farming which can help boost your yields.Find out what networks exist in your area. If you can access the internet, you can be part of online platforms that can provide you with similar information.
3. Passion: Being enthusiastic, excited and motivated about a venture might be the only difference that determines the success and fruitfulness of an enterprise. Passion means patience, endurance and courage to overcome obstacles. Passion means you will not give up until you strike gold!
Is it worthwhile?
Farming presents various opportunities; besides owning your own business and working on your own terms, it will save you the pressure of worrying about how soon you can find a job if you are unemployed. This also means that you can enjoy the luxury of working on projects you are passionate about since your immediate needs for money will be covered with incomes from your farm.
Here at Development Connection, we hope that you will be inspired to invest in agriculture and hopefully, to start your own farm. Good Luck!