18/05/2018 16:44 SAST | Updated 18/05/2018 16:44 SAST

Land Debate: 'More Needs To Be Done For The Youth In Agriculture'

Agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo said there isn’t a clear path on how to involve youth in the agricultural sector.

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More needs to be done to accommodate the youth in South Africa's agricultural sector if land expropriation without compensation is to yield positive results in the future.

This is according to agricultural economists speaking on a panel at the "Nation in Conversation" debate at the National Maize Producers Organisation [NAMPO] Harvest Day in Bothaville on Friday.

Agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo said there isn't a clear path on how to involve youth in the agricultural sector.

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"The South African average age of a farmer is 62. If you look at farms in South Africa, the majority are family farms. This makes it particularly difficult to have the youth coming on as farm owners," he said.

AgriSA chief economist Hamlet Hlomendlini said an agricultural curriculum needs to be introduced at secondary school level.

"It is said that 200-million people in Africa are between the ages of 15 and 25. By 2045, that number will be doubled. This means Africa will continue to be a youthful continent. It means young people will have to come to the table in terms of being active in the economy. From an agricultural perspective, they are needed even more, because Africa's mouth is getting bigger and bigger but its agricultural productivity is not going very well," he said.

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"We need to get more young people into the sector because the people already there are ageing ... There was an agricultural curriculum given at school level and you don't see that happening anymore. From the school level, agriculture is not positioned as something that is very important. We need more students or young people taking on agricultural degrees."

He said perceptions around the agricultural sector also need to be addressed.

"The problem is within the image of agriculture. Farming is associated with a certain perception that you have to go put on gumboots and drive a tractor. When you go bigger into agriculture, you see that young people think that a black person cannot be a commercial farmer ... [they think] being a commercial farmer in agriculture is associated with being white," he said.