African farming needs an injection of youth

An average farm age of 60-65 is a major challenge to ending world hunger, industry leaders in Malawi and Kenya have claimed.

Dyborn Chibonga, head of Malawi’s Smallholder Farmers Association, told the World Food Day Conference in Dublin’s Mansion House that the average age of farmers in his country was 65. 

John Mutunga, who heads the 2m-member Kenya Farmers Federation, said Kenya has an average farm age of 60.

“Young people do not want to farm,” Dr Mutunga said.

“They do not want to enter a life where long hours of manual labour with hand tools is the norm.”

Jason Hickel of London School of Economics challenged any claims that global hunger was receding. He said defining poverty as those who lived on under $1 a day was being challenged, and said that the real measure should be $5 a day.

Benjamin Davis, deputy director at UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, refuted a notion that social protection programmes foster a dependency culture. He said farmers in Africa and Asia invest this money in improving their means of farm production.

The event was jointly hosted by development groups Gorta-Self Help Africa and Concern Worldwide.


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