Merriam Webster defines agriculture as the science, art or practice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, raising livestock and, in varying degrees, the preparation and marketing of the resulting products.
Ndatulumukwa Haikali is one of the few influential young Namibians in the field of agriculture. He was recently appointed as the ambassador of the 15th National Youth Week that was hosted by the National Youth Council in Lüderitz in the //Kharas region. The event was hosted under the theme “Promotion of youth agripreneurship: An avenue for self-employment and work readiness”.
Haikali is the founder of the Youth in Agriculture Organization (YAO) which has empowered and employed 375 farmers. The organization has created a sustainable market linkage between local farmers and the market. It also provides those farmers with a platform that allows them to air their voices and decisive power in the development of agricultural policies through Farmers Clubs in Africa.
In addition, he also developed the Youth in Agri-Fund Initiative, which has inspired financial Institutions to establish youth centered Agri-funding schemes.
We caught up with him to ask about the following:
What or who inspired you to begin with your agricultural journey?
Many young people in the developing world tend to shy away from agriculture. I, too, once found myself disenchanted by small villages I grew up seeing every day. As the conventions goes, agriculture means archaic lifestyle and a future with limited opportunities for youth.Ndatulumukwa Haikali
According to Haikali, that is also what he believed until some years later when he realised he was mistaken. There is plenty of evidence that shows that agriculture provides the youth with many viable ways to harvest success and grow a sustainable future.
“Yes, I firmly believe that young people can and should choose agriculture,” Haikali shared. He further highlighted that agriculture has always been a sign throughout his journey and the fact that his late grandmother was a farmer contributed immensely.
Why should you consider venturing in agriculture as a young Namibian?
- Agriculture matters to the future development because the agricultural sector is four times more effective than any other sector in reducing poverty.
- The world is counting on agriculture to produce more nutritious food to improve the livelihoods of the booming population.
- Agriculture can be a gold mine for young entrepreneurs.
- And it requires young brain powers
- The trend of youth choosing agriculture is growing, and support for the agricultural sector is increasing.
If you are young and into development research, agriculture may be the right place for you today, more than before, as there is climate change and a growing demand for nutritious food.Ndatulumukwa Haikali
Is agriculture only for old people?
Haikali describes the agricultural sector as an ageless sector with modernized work opportunities that are along the value chain. Opportunities vary from agriculture mechanics, bioprocessing engineer, electrical engineer, accountants, public relations, journalism.. you name it. All of these exist in the agricultural sector and it’s up to us to explore them.
Its not just about ploughing mahangu or growing cabbages. In fact, growing food only takes up about 10% of jobs in the agriculture industry, as more jobs and opportunities are found along the value chain.Ndatulumukwa Haikali
Key reasons why agriculture is unattractive to young people are the hard working conditions, long working hours and restricted access to land and investments.
Haikali suggested that the government should open a competition to young farmers to lease land, and after ten years they should be allowed to buy it.
He further urged the media to play its role to ensure that there is a change of views as that is the only leading solution to ensuring generational renewal. According to him, the key in ensuring generational change is a creation of the idealist look imagining free life of farmers who are beneficial for the world. Changing the image within the sector could even attract new people from the non-agricultural sector.
If you would like to venture in the agricultural sector, one needs to be very passionate about it because it requires a lot of consistent hard work and focused, Haikali stated. He encourages them to take up space because their dreams are valid and the sector is big enough to enter, grow and be successful in.
“Let us tap our skills, energy, creativity and willingness to take risks. Namibian youth, in particular, could play a critical role in revitalising rural communities and enhancing agricultural productivity”.