Young Researchers from Africa have authored a research Report on Building Inclusive Agricultural Technologies ‘For Young People’ that could help shape policy and address the barriers to the creation, promotion and uptake of agricultural technologies by young people.
The researchers, from seven African countries: Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, undertook the research under the Mastercard Foundation’s Youth Think Tank Initiative (YTT), which, in partnership with Restless Development, seeks to engage young people in research on key issues.
The research, conducted by the 2017/2018 YTT cohort of 14 young men and women, between the ages of 15-24 years, focused on the Agrifood sector, which plays an important role in creating sustainable and fulfilling livelihoods for young people in Africa, and on innovative technologies, that are recognised as having the potential to unlock agriculture on the continent.
According to Ms. Ashley Collier, Scholars Community Manager at the Mastercard Foundation, who spoke to the media at the launch of the Agrifood research report in Accra, on Wednesday, said keeping young people at the core of its activities was fundamental to the Foundation.
“We have the fundamental belief that young people have the solutions and they know the challenges best of what other young people are going through,” she said, thus the setting up of the YTT in 2012.
She explained that the establishment of the YTT was guided by the thought that young people were the ones that could actually gain this information as they were close to the young people, in order to share with the foundation what the young people need in order to prosper and create their own opportunities to achieve their fullest potential.
She said going forward, the Foundation will be guided by the report as it develops its strategic plan for the next ten years.
Miss Faith Kaoma, from Zambia and a member of the 2017/2018 YTT cohort, said the researchers were able to relate to some of the challenges that came up during the peer to peer interviews.
She explained that usually young people found it uncomfortable and were not able to express their real concerns when interviewed by older researchers.
“The fact that it was peer to peer made it richer because we had in-depth insights from the respondents.
“One unique thing about being young, and working with young people in the communities is that they do not see you as a researcher, or as an educator; they see you as a friend… and so they share information with you,” stated Mr. Francis Oko Armah, a YTT researcher from Ghana.
Ms Rachel Proefke, Senior International Research Manager at Restless Development said the researchers were taken through its six-step research methodology, up to the final point of sharing for discussion and action.
Among other things, the study found, that there was the need for agricultural technologies to be tailored to optimise opportunities for young people, especially those in rural areas, in order to maximise their on-farm activities and facilitate their entry into off-farm activities.
Because acquisition of land was a major challenge for most young people engaged in farming, the focus of technology should be in maximising the use of small land for on-farm activities, the report said.
Such innovations include greenhouse technologies and vertical garden systems.
Both adopters of agricultural innovations and innovators were also greatly constrained by inadequate access to finance to invest in agricultural technologies, at both creation and uptake stages.