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WhyYouths shun away from agriculture?

I would like t know why youths have run away from agriculture and what can be done to reverse this situation. i think with over 60% of Uganda's population being youths, they have to play a crucial role in Uganda's agricultural sector which has a tremendous potential. Any one with some information please share with me. 


Agriprofoucs has undertaken a comprehensive  study on the same subject and the findings will be validated in a workshop due on 22/07/2014 . I guess thereafter, they may share the report.


Thanks Isaac for sharing this.

Last week I was with a friend who is currently in his final year at University. He was born and grew up in a farming community. I guess his tuition fees has been generated from farming. During the holidays, he normally works in the farm with his parents. I asked him what he plans to do after studies and this is what he said “I want to get a job so that I will not have to suffer anymore with farm work”. Farming is regarded by the youth as suffering or a punishment. I did not blame my friend entirely for this because;

  • When we were in primary school, those in wrong were asked to work in the school farm as a punishment.
  • In most prisons (at least in Uganda) prisoners work in farms ( as a punishment)
  • Most of the small scale farmers we interact with are not well-off and are not proud of themselves as farmers. The only doing as a last resort.

Youths have a lot of ambitions for their future and would like to take on activities they think will help them meet their goals.  The fact that they have not seen many people succeed through farming leaves very minimal chances for them to venture into farming.

What can be done?

There is need to change the youths’ perception towards agriculture. This can best be done by showcasing successful farmers who are proud of farming as their economic activity. This way, more youth will see the potential agriculture has and more will take it up as a business.



Imagen de Mahesh Chander

We completed one study recently in 4 states of India on DETERMINANTS OF YOUTH PARTICIPATION IN AGRICULTURE. The situation is same, youth not intersted in agriculture at least in current form. Oner of the papers from this work is published.

R. Hari, Mahesh Chander and N. K. Sharma.2013.Comparison of Educational and Occupational Aspirations of Rural Youth from Farming Families of Kerala and Rajasthan. Indian Journal of Extension Education, Vol. 49, No. 1 & 2, 2013 (57-59). http://www.isee.org.in/uploadpaper/49,January%20-%20June,14.pdf

Imagen de Taylor Butts


As a father of ten..., we don't have a TV.

Our older kids go for the money. Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer, etc. The simple life isn't as attractive in their eyes. That being stated. We also host foreign youth from agricultural communities who can't stand being sent to an agricultural training facility. Once here, they too are attracted to Western lifestyles.

We personally have been sanctioned by our own state and local government (US) for choosing agriculture over what they term 'traditional employment'. This is especially true of small farms. We are often referred to as 'unemployed' despite paying state and federal taxes.

A very small group of youth in this country seek the life of a farmer but they are berated as Lazy, Hippies, Socialist, Long Hairs, and of course 'believers of climate change'. Generally these youth are post graduates in other fields who have 'dropped out'.

This observation does not include the students who enroll in agricultural studies. However in this country most of these students go on to work for the government and multinationals, not as farmers per say.

Perhaps the lack of frontal lobe development plays a part in the often irrational and poor decisions of youth as most all of the retired members of our community revert to farming for income/sustenance.

Showcasing individuals seems to be a token gesture. We need real change in the fundamental concept of a farmer which is only possible in the present culture with money, money, money. This is a sad state of affairs when the wisdom of farmers is renown, not their wealth. I personally do not think that money will make a better farmer. To the contrary it has proven to be an biocide.

When the shelves become barren and the crying child’s stomach is swollen.....the choice is made for you.


Taylor Butts




Hi Isaac,

Thank you so much for your question and to you my dear colleagues, for your useful contributions.

I think youth's participation in agriculture depends on policies and existing platforms that can incentvize them to go back to farm. As we all know, farming is a very demanding venture, with high investment risk. Its 'production parttern is time-bound and most of its products are highly perishable. To enjoy the benefits of this activity, participants MUST have access to inputs and all the other factors that is required for food production. This includes access to capital, land, inputs and equipments, market (food price stablitity) and storage facilities.

With the recent inventions in the seed sector, improved crops varieties are being produced and deployed to farmers. However, they need to get value for their labour. To this, there is a need for states to come up with strategies that will seek to end the way interventions in agriculture are de-linked from each other to promote the full cycle of food procuction from pre-planting activities to marketing of produce.

Farming must be viable for youths to participate.







Youths have not involved themselves in Agricultural activities just because  they are not aware of agricultural benefits mostly about the type of agricultural activities would be more viable and the market channels ,and a few youths who have the knowledge probably have no control over the land and finances ,which are major requirements for start ups.Because if one is to benefit from agiculture he/she has to go commercial,of which this requires enough land and some innitial investment in terms of finance.

The youths dont own land and they dont have finances either, so thats why most of them engage in activities that just require skills and knowledge and their time.with minimal financial outlay.

Another sure way for the youths to get involved in agricultural activities is to identify those activities that do not require a lot of land and finances. And the government and other supporting organizations can only help the youths through youth clubs/schemes where sensitizatoion and other services could be extendeded to these groups easily.

‘Why do young people shun agriculture?’ asked Isaac Ssekatawa back in July last year. Well, there have been just six replies to this pertinent question during nine months, so maybe there are few people following this thread; or the lack of interest in ‘agriculture’ extends across all ages; or people are simple unable to differentiate between ‘subsistence’ and ‘commercial’ farming opportunities.

The former requires access to land – usually land that is community owned at the discretion of the tribal leadership, but also small blocks of land that may have been handed on from the family. Everyone will know the issues involved with sharing within a large family and the fragmented areas of land that result are too small to make a difference. Women are further disadvantaged by gender and face all those difficulties of land custodianship that are well documented notwithstanding that they are, ultimately, responsible for feeding their family. Change in social traditions requires time on a generation-scale.

There is no attraction (and little economic value) in subsistence farming; and neither the young in the family nor the parents want their offspring to farm in poverty. Just about all countries in Africa have publically-supported proposals to make every farmer a ‘commercial’ farmer. This, however, requires a formal education, dedicated effort and hard work, insight and not a little luck. It does not come about for those who finish their formal education at primary school, remain in their rural community and/or fail to compete successfully with their peers.

Commercial farming, however, comes from recognizing opportunity; government providing education facilities – including tertiary schools/crafts/skills/technologies and more – rural infrastructure, financial incentives and, sometimes, development investments that result in well-targeted agro-production programmes that are crop/industry/region specific.

Check out the TechnoServe ‘Project Nuture’ at http://www.technoserve.org/our-work/stories/nurturing-new-opportunities-for-fruit-farmers-in-east-africa wherein 50,000 smallholder farmers in Eastern Uganda and Western Kenya are being encouraged to form agribusiness groups to focus upon the production of exotic horticultural crops such as passionfruit and mangoes during an investment period of four years. Investment funds of the order US$11.5 million are available.

The thing about non-commercial agriculture is the lack of investment involved; why would you invest in subsistence production? There is simply no money to be made.

I’ve recently been exploring value chains in East Africa – looking at opportunities for producing discrete products for which there are buoyant markets – honey, milk, popular staple foods and exotic horticulture. The term ‘value chain’ tells it all; there is money to be made at each step of the production chain from the farmer and his/her suppliers through the traders and processors to those who sell the final products to the consumer who purchases/uses them. At each step on the chain there are costs and incomes; and profits to be made. Herein are the employment opportunities that people can exploit; and the livelihoods that can be attained. Herein is the role of the entrepreneur (the risk taker) and those who provide the finance with which risks can be taken.

And there is a place for the young within this kind of development. Check out the successful story of the 30 year old Ugandan passionfruit grower with 10 ha crop close to Fort Portal. He provides a glimpse of the value of national investment in small-scale horticultural production. Note the value of hybrid passionfruit varieties available from plant breeders in Kenya. Similar opportunities and developments are possible for growers elsewhere. More information is available at: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/652399-kaduru-earns-millions-from-passion-fruits.html.

You don’t have to be the world’s most innovative or imaginative person to farm successfully. Look around you, find a successful model that may be within reach and copy it. Of course, you’ll need resources – finding them will be simply be task number one.

Sure you can do it.

Peter Steele

Melbourne Australia

23 March 2015

When I was up in the mountain villages of Thailand, mention farming and the immediate reaction by youths are fowl, pigs and cattle. The daily routine of being a farmer in these village i.e. rural ecosystems was tiring and often unrewarding, the children are in it because they had no better choice. The youths would wake up early and either bring their cattle out on grazing walks, or prepare leftover meals as feed for the birds and pigs. While there were also orchard fruit tree farms, a significant fraction of these youths end up joining the cities in search of better white-collared air conditioned lives in the commercial district offices.

There is an interesting news article in our local news today titled 'Urban farming in Singapore has moved into a new, high-tech phase' by Natasha Ann Zachariah which showcases three examples of urbanised farming trends in this country. What is noteworthy is that these high-tech farmers no longer deal with poultry products, instead the focus is on growing greens in an economically savvy manner. While land still remains a challenge, organic farms are being operated from rooftops in the commercial district, aquaponics empower the rearing of edible fish along with growing vegetables without soil, and growing vertical towers are adopted too. Ideally, since there is minimal contact with soil, this reins in more youths that are becoming interested in subsistence agriculture involving scientific research i.e. it gives them meaning other than commercial viability too.