‘Youth participation in agric crucial’

YOUTH participation in agriculture is the key to strengthening food systems as they are vulnerable to climate change and pandemics, Agriculture deputy minister Vangelis Haritatos has said. 

Haritatos was speaking this week during the webinar organised by the Agribusiness and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (Fao) under the theme, “Youth Unlocking Opportunities in the Business of Agriculture.” 

“The ministry of Agriculture and Fao conducted national and provincial food security dialogues from June to September 2021,” he said.  

“During the national dialogue it was discovered that food systems touch every aspect of our lives. Health of our food systems profoundly affects wellbeing, environment, economy and culture. 

“Many of the world’s food systems are fragile, unexamined and vulnerable to disruptions and shocks such as cyclones, pandemics such as Covid-19. The good news is that transforming our food systems has the potential of countering the negative effects of shocks. 

“Transforming our food systems is among one of the powerful ways of reaching the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Everyone has a role to play in transforming the food systems and youth participation is critical in developing that.” 

Haritatos applauded youth participation in reaching the US$8,2 billion target by 2025. 

“I’m pleased to see youths turning agriculture into a fashionable thing and regaining Zimbabwe’s status of being the bread basket of Africa,” he said.  

“We currently have reached 2.7 million metric tonnes of cereals against our annual requirement of 1,2 million metric tonnes and the youth played a role in this. 

“According to the ministry of Finance our sector grew by a massive 36,4 percent ushering the growth from US$5,8 billion to slightly above US$8 billion this year against our 2025 target of US$8,2 billion this means the figure has to be adjusted.”  

The deputy minister encouraged youth to participate in the government initiatives and assured them that they will create policies that include them. 

“As a sector we would have failed if our strategic plans do not amplify the voice of the youth in agribusiness and upping their role in transforming food systems. Youth are critical in the development of food security,” Haritatos said.  

“Youth should be active in our food systems and be proactive in identifying platforms, 

opportunities to inform policy and institutional arrangements that create the required environment for more efficient food systems.”