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How to Attract Young People to Agriculture

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo argues that African agriculture needs innovation and the youth.

Every year, thousands of young Africans migrate from their families’ small, often struggling farms in the countryside. Their dream — sometimes fulfilled, often not — is to find a more rewarding and stimulating life in the continent’s rapidly growing cities. Few return but even fewer ever completely sever their ties. It’s a complicated connection and one I deeply understand. My own exodus to the city as a young man opened up lifetime opportunities that culminated in serving as president of Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy. But not only did I retain my ties to agriculture, I have now returned to my roots. I’m a farmer again — at Obasanjo Farms Limited — and I’ve never been happier.

Working as a farmer once more has given me a better perspective on two of the biggest challenges facing Africa today: how do we provide employment opportunities to the millions of young Africans under 25 years of age so they can stay in the village and farm? And how do we put an end to the seemingly endless cycles of food crises that are, as I write, playing out again with dismaying familiarity in parts of eastern and southern Africa?

UN Geneva

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