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youth in agriculture  According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, the national unemployment rate is 23.9 percent with the youth accounting for more than 70 percent. Increased involvement of youth in agricultural activities will help reduce the problems of the ageing farm population and increasing youth unemployment.

Nigeria’s government has attempted to stimulate youth’s interest in agricultural production and processing since the late 1980s. In 1986, the federal government established the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) to provide vocational training to the youth, and in 1987, the Better Life Programme was created to empower women, especially female youths in the rural areas through skills acquisition and healthcare training.

My name is Prisca Egboluche from Nigeria. I am a MasterCard Foundation graduate scholar in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences at Michigan State University (MSU), in the United States. I am also an Igbo language instructor in the Department of Linguistic and Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages, MSU. I am an avid researcher, a young entrepreneur and a dedicated teacher with an open mind.

I was born in a small village in southern Rwanda, where the majority of inhabitants rely on subsistence farming for their daily living. Given its far distance from the national grid, the village has no access to electricity, and biomass is the main source of fuel. As I grew up facing these challenges firsthand, I developed a passion for having a direct role in improving my livelihood and the livelihoods of my fellow villagers.

Green innovations    The understanding of agriculture by many young people or naive person is limited to farming which has to do with cultivating crops and harvesting the cultivated crops. This invariably means that many did not think beyond the primary production end of crops farming.

The secret behind agriculture as a goldmine to tap into remains that agriculture comprises of many enterprises along the value chain which has more return on income based on understanding and management practices put in place.

In 2014, a youth-led company, CARL Group, made up of four young entrepreneurs from Rwanda had an idea: to process orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSP) and turn them into baked goods. Hardworking, determined, passionate and business-minded, the company has added value by taking what was once considered a valueless crop and creating healthy, consumable vitamin A products.

Brian bosire one of the participants at the 2017 Young Africa Works summitIn a small village in western Kenya, I had my first encounter with farming. Farming was hugely defined by women waking up early every day, with a hoe and a machete, and spending a whole day physically tilling the land. The little inherited knowledge was enough to manage farms.

This farming system worked for a long time when our forefathers had fertile land, hugely fallow with plenty of time to regenerate. Now things have changed. We are at a time when over 60 percent of Africa’s agricultural soils have degenerated, weather has become more unpredictable and the demand for food has increased. Looking at my home village, our hereditary land tenure system has resulted in fragmentation of the available land to uneconomical farm sizes. Productivity per farm has reduced, and even farmers are no longer immune to hunger.