A dead-end street or socially degrading path, here’s what agriculture represents for many young people in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP). ICT can help to reverse this trend.
"Many young people don’t see farming as an interesting sector. Every year hundreds of young people leave the villages to settle in the city ", laments Michael Hailu, Director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA). And for urban youth and their families, it is simply unthinkable to return to agriculture after several years of study. The agricultural sector suffers from the loss of youth.
But the future looks bright. The ICTs can help to make agriculture a more attractive option for young people, improving living conditions in rural areas. For Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Rwandan Minister of Youth and ICT, this is already the case. «ICT is currently attracting young people to agriculture, a sector that much needed innovation to accelerate its transformation », he says.
In the momentum of reconciliating youth with the agricultural sector, governments have a crucial role to play. They must work to accelerate the modernization of agriculture in order to make this sector a dynamic career option for young people. This, Rwanda, better than many other ACP countries, achieved it.
In each of the 30 districts of the country, a business development centre is established. This is a place where people can learn about the use of computer tools and surf on Internet. They do this free of charge. 2,150 villagers ICT centres have also been established. They include a satellite television with a hundred of channels, a DVD player, a computer with Internet access, a telephone box and a battery charger for mobile phone.
These centres are crowded areas, especially full of young people who go there for fun, learning and make inquiries on a daily basis. "We are committed to maintaining ICT the forefront of our transformation agenda of agriculture", says Minister Jean Philbert Nsengimana.
Picture credit: Inoussa Maiga; ICTs make Agriculture Cool again for Youth