A ‘fact’ that is commonly used to support the case for doing something about young rural Africans’ apparent lack of interest in agriculture is that ‘the average age of farmers in Africa is increasing’. An aging population of farmers is seen to be undesirable, with the implication being that if nothing is done the agricultural sector will slowly crumble as the remaining farmers progressively work themselves into the grave.
Thus, according to some commentators, an aging farm population should be a wake-up call for policy makers: inaction risks increasing food insecurity, rural poverty, burgeoning urban slums and economic decline. Others see an aging farm population as a sign of a lost opportunity to bring young people into the sector and benefit from their energy and greater openness to innovation.
But these claims, and the evidence on which they are based, need to be looked at more closely.
In African policy…
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