Government’s decision to allocate five hectares to 100 youths in each of the country’s 10 provinces will not be enough given the number of youths who want to benefit from the programme, the Apex Council for Youth in Agriculture (ACYA), said this week.
ACYA chairperson, John Muchenje, told Business Times, “Looking at the allocated 500 hectares is not enough considering the number of youths who want to benefit from the program. We want to come up with a framework that we will present to the Minister of Youths, Sport, Art, and Recreation.”
He, however, encouraged the youth to use the land effectively.
“We are pushing for all stakeholders’ conference where all youth organisations will be invited. We believe this is just a first step towards our call for land to be given to people. So I think the 500 hectares allocated is a test to see how effective and organised these guys are.
“And also we need to see that the land is shared at a 50/50 basis with women so as we will be crafting the framework we need to take into consideration that everything that we will be doing is 50/50 so as to encourage more young women to take part in Agriculture.
Last week, a directive was given to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, to avail 500 hectares in every province for allocation to the youth.
The government promised to ensure that those allotments are fully backed up with infrastructure and by way of other inputs required by the youths to make them productive in the agricultural area of their choice.
In recent times young people in Zimbabwe have been considering agriculture as a viable career option.
A number of urban youth are now agro-entrepreneurs, reversing the mantra that used to exist during the colonial era where the youth used to provide cheap labour to the minority white farmers, miners, and industry.
The move by the government will most likely see a number of youth, most of them unemployed, benefit from the allocation as more and more are being encouraged to venture into farming.
Agriculture has significantly contributed to the recovery of the economy of Zimbabwe.
But, the bulk of young farmers are still in the periphery as they are struggling to secure land and financial assistance to further their dreams.
The support by the government and the growing interest by the young people could contribute to food security in a country that has struggled with food shortages for more than a decade.