The world depends on agriculture to stay fed. The industry also plays a pivotal role in preserving the environment and ensuring future generations have the opportunity to enjoy the rich gifts of nature. However, agriculture currently contributes up to 37 percent of the world’s emissions, a leading factor in climate change.
Today’s youth and their children will inherit this world and they’re already influencing how things get done. Here’s how young farmers are transforming the agriculture industry.
The Importance of Youth Involvement in Agriculture
A shrinking number of people control the world’s farmlands, a phenomenon that should concern society. The problems go beyond agricultural monopolies driving up prices and putting small farmers out of business.
For example, Bill Gates is the largest owner of U.S. farmland. However, all of his wealth doesn’t give him the supernatural ability to oversee such large land swaths and manage resources in an ecologically sustainable manner. Money is not an effective means of determining who should manage resources vital to human life.
However, without an influx of young people ready and willing to take over land management, the means necessary for producing food will become the private property of the few people wealthy enough to pay the bill. Billionaires don’t take out mortgages to buy acreage, nor do they form the intimate connection with the land necessary to put it to its highest use.
Fortunately, many members of today’s generation are up to the task. For example, more millennials than ever embrace the homesteading lifestyle, making a living from working their land. Furthermore, they’re adopting more sustainable practices to combat climate change, such as organic farming techniques that mitigate the number of chemicals entering the air and soil.
Will America ever see a return to small-town farm life, where such individuals were revered for their contributions to their community? Such a shift could help address the growing problem of food insecurity, particularly during shortages. As the recent pandemic showed, world events can impact the supply chain, and it’s far easier to get goods closer to home. You can still see the difference today when comparing prices between traditional grocers and farmers markets.
4 Emerging Young Farmers Transforming the Industry
The evidence of young people’s involvement in the agriculture sector continues to grow with each community garden project. However, some go above and beyond to bring more sustainable farming practices to their communities at large. Here are four young farmers and organizations that are transforming the industry.
1. Matias Habib
Japanese beetles may be beautiful to look at, but they’re the scourge of the agriculture industry. These pests attack the foliage of over 300 plants, destroying countless crops that never make it to store shelves.
Matias Habib, a member of the Sandwich, Il., 4-H chapter, discovered an amino acid in geraniums acts as a neurotoxin to these insect pests. Best of all, this substance doesn’t affect bees, humans, pets or birds — only the beetles. The toxin paralyzes the bugs for 24 hours, during which time they can drown or become easy prey for predators.
2. Peninah Wanja
Peninah Wanja is the founder and managing director of Farmingtech solutions. She’s also a developer of Digicow, one of three youth-led African businesses to win the AYuTe Africa Challenge, an initiative launched to provide mentorship and $1.5 million in grants to those who address longstanding challenges faced by small farmers on the continent.
Her mobile phone app helps dairy farmers increase their knowledge, maintain accurate records and generate reports. The app provides free access to veterinarians and other services that can increase farm productivity.
3. Uka Eje
Uka Eje, co-founder and CEO of ThriveAgric, realized that many small African farmers lacked meaningful access to finance, information and markets. His platform links farmers to capital, agricultural, business support and market resources they might not otherwise have access to. What’s most impressive is that his AOS app works offline, a considerable benefit in regions where internet service is unavailable.
4. Martin Stimela
Martin Stimela, the co-founder and CEO of Brastone Enterprises, realized that although less than 80% of Africans have internet access, many have feature phones. His vision is to connect the unconnected with USSD technology to let users build profiles, add friends and create chats. Access to farming information with this system can help increase yields by up to 250%.
Young Farmers Transforming the Agriculture Industry
Food is vital to life, and agriculture is among the noblest professions. Without youth involvement, the world’s agricultural lands will concentrate into fewer and fewer hands, causing untold problems for future generations.
Fortunately, these young leaders and others like them inspire their generation to get involved in farming. Youth are transforming the agriculture industry for the benefit of the planet.