Windhoek — Minister of Sports, Youth and National Service Erastus Uutoni has assured the young people who perceive that agriculture is a "dirty" profession, not appealing, rewarding and lucrative, that indeed agribusiness can provide jobs for the youth and help the country achieve its development goals.
Uutoni said this while speaking at the Agri4Youth-Youth Agricultural Forum themed: "Agri4Youth Inspiring the Future of Agriculture in Namibia" here on Friday.
He stated that agricultural development of the youth for the future industry is not only an option but a very necessity.
"A strong commitment by you young people will be a significant step in promoting that youth are the future of agriculture," Uutoni said.
He told participants that there is always a place to start, and believes the best place to start begins today with the things happening now.
"First and foremost, it begins with advocating for our industry and everything we value and believe," he said.
He said Namibia is blessed with rich natural resources, a well-developed physical infrastructure and political stability.
"Despite its marginal contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the agriculture sector remains central to the lives of the majority of the population," said the youth minister.
Directly or indirectly, Uutoni said agriculture supports over 70 percent of the country's population.
The evidence, therefore he said reveals that youth engagement in agriculture is minimal amidst rising youth unemployment, yet the services and industrial sectors, despite growing at considerably faster rates have not created enough jobs for the rising youthful labour force.
This, he said may have implications on food security, unemployment, and under-employment and may undermine the government efforts to drive economic growth through agriculture.
"Youth participation thus in the agricultural sector is becoming a prominent issue in many developing countries," he said, adding that agriculture is likely to provide the main source of income and it is vital that young people are connected to this important sector.
"Land occupation issues, on the other hand, continue to impede many youths from engaging in agriculture, with the majority of youth using land without exclusive ownership rights," he said. In addition, he said the results point to the fact that the youth are less likely to access credit, extension services and social capital that are all key factors within agricultural transformation.
Uutoni said this particular conference, therefore is an indication that the youth are so important because they are the future.
"They are the ones who will grow and work the economy and advocate for all of its noble causes," he stressed. "They will become farmers, ranchers, business leaders and lawmakers. I was informed that the participanst of this important initiative has been drawn from all 14 regions of our country (five young people per region)," he added.