Agro Tech Gives Advocacy Skills to Youths on Responsible Agriculture Investment

Some young people in Grand Bassa County who participated in the training on responsible agriculture investment, initiated by Agro Tech.

Agro Tech Gives Advocacy Skills to Youths on Responsible Agriculture Investment

Agro Tech Liberia, a youth-driven agricultural organization, has commenced training for 88 young agripreneurs across the country on responsible agriculture investment to improve Liberia’s food system.

The training started on July 8, 2021 in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County, and will extend to other parts of the country, with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Liberia.

The Executive Director of Agro Tech, Jonathan Stewart, made the disclosure to the Daily Observer recently at his office in Paynesville, outside Monrovia.

Responsible Agriculture Investment (RAI) is a global program initiative, led by the FAO, which aims to educate various stakeholders in agriculture to advocate for the need to prioritize increased investment for agriculture, especially in poor countries. 

According to Stewart, when trained, the young people will be able to engage the government through advocacy dialogue at local and national levels on policy issues to invest more in agriculture to improve the country’s food system and to reduce poverty in the lives of the citizens in agriculture.

Stakeholders in the sector have said that one of the major reasons why Liberia remains food insecure is limited investment in the sector.

Stewart said, the training will also develop the organizational skills of the young people as well as educate them on climate-smart agriculture and provide insight about the mandates of the Ministry of Agriculture and FAO on agricultural development.

“Recent survey conducted by our organization shows that 60 percent of the youths in the country still lack interest in agriculture and they lack the knowledge on how to engage in policy dialogue. They think that agriculture deals with hard labor. This situation is hampering growth in the sector,” he said.

“Technical institutions that provide skills in agriculture are not equipped to better educate the youth. Many of those institutions lack teaching materials and equipment to improve the skills of youth,” he added.

Stewart said if the youth are to venture into agriculture to improve their lives, the government will need to invest more in agriculture to make the sector attractive.

“More young people will not engage in agriculture if the government does not create an enabling environment. The youth need to use mechanized equipment to promote production. But this comes by increased investment in the sector,” he explained.

According to him, the farming population is aging, so the need for youth to get attracted to agriculture cannot be overlooked.

“This is the first time in Liberia that we are training youth to get involved in advocacy for agriculture. They must be part of the decision-making processes when it comes to agriculture.

He said that there are concession companies in the country that are not committed to increasing investment in agriculture, something he said that once young people are trained in advocacy, it will bring about change in the sector.

Stewart said that Liberia needs to do more toward youth development if the country is to meet the goal for zero hunger by 2030.

“The country needs to be very serious to reduce hunger, though we may not achieve it by 2030. The youth play a pivotal role in this process. This is why we have established our organization to encourage more youth participation in agriculture,” he said.

“In other African countries, more youth are involved in agriculture. But in this country, we are lacking support for youth development in agriculture,” he said.

He said that if young people in agriculture are not improving, others will not be encouraged.

“The gap is still there for young people to get involved, so we are using strategy by showcasing the success stories of some of the youth,” he added.