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Perception of Youth towards Agriculture

The role of young people in the agricultural sector has been debated extensively and for good reasons. Youth unemployment in Mauritius, especially in the agricultural sector is a huge challenge with potentially severe consequences. The food sector is the most important sector in any country and the questions that arise here are who are going to replace the farmers on the fields in the coming years, how to increase and encourage youth participation and interest in agriculture and what makes the bad image of agriculture among the youngsters.Faculty of Agriculture; University of MauritiusThe Faculty of Agriculture offers a range of undergraduates programmes which respond to new and emerging trends in the agricultural and food sectors of the island. Some programmes currently being run at the Faculty of Agriculture are: BSc (Hons) Agriculture (Spp: Aquaculture), BSc (Hons) Crop Technology (Spp: Landscape Management), BSc (Hons) Biotechnology, BSc (Hons) Food Quality and Safety, BSc (Hons) Agriscience and Technology, BSc (Hons) Microbiology and BSc (Hons) Agriculture (Spp: Land and Water Management).During their second year of study, students have the opportunity to participate in the Student Work Experience Placement (SWEP) programme so that they acquire complementary skills and have an experience of the world of work waiting for them. Some companies to which students have been to during the SWEP programme are Innodis Ltd, Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, Agricultural Research and Extension Unit (AREU), Albion Fisheries Research Centre (AFRC), Agricultural Marketing Board (AMB), Food and Agricultural Research Council (FARC), Irrigation Authority among many others. UoM Agricultural SocietyThe UoM Agricultural Society from the Faculty of Agriculture aims at creating and promoting an awareness of agriculture on the University Campus by organising activities like the World Food Day, Agricultural Fair, Career Oriented Job Fair, launching of newsletters and magazine, among others.In Mauritius, youth perceives agriculture as unattractive as a career without realising the importance of this sector in their everyday lives. Since students in the lower grades appear to have already shaped their perception towards agriculture, the UoM Agricultural Society has launched an Agricultural Awareness Campaign in schools and colleges to inform the young generation about the different aspects, importance and job opportunities in the agricultural sector. In August 2013, the UoM Agricultural Society shall organise a ‘Youth & Agriculture Seminar’ to inform students on the University Campus more about the world of agriculture.Youth & AgricultureThose were the days when our grandparents were toiling the land for a living and for food. With the advent of technologies and the development of others sectors, the majority of people has developed a negative attitude towards agriculture.I believe that youth engagement in the agricultural sector is critical as Mauritius has an ageing population who is less likely to adopt new technologies for agricultural development. However, being the key stakeholders the youth must be supported and encouraged to take advantage of the opportunities opening up in the agricultural sector. The youth on their part must urge to claim their space in the agricultural sector as future adults as they have the responsibility of feeding the island’s growing population. When Mauritius has the capacity and the resources of feeding its population, why do we depend so much on imports for food?My very short message to the youth out there is: kNOw Agriculture kNOw LifeSource: By Zainal Kareemun, PRESIDENT of the UoM Agricultural Society on leDEFIMEDIA GROUP website