On the 26th of June 2017 the first AKTC Youth Day was held on the project premises at the Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust (GART). The Youth Day aimed at bringing together young European and Zambian farmers and other agricultural professionals under the theme, “Building Young Farmers”.
Furthermore, it also aimed at increasing the interest and awareness of young people of the continuously widening career opportunities available in agriculture and agribusiness, as well as providing relevant technical and practical information.
Among the 106 participants were some young agricultural professionals from Germany and Austria, sent to Zambia for this special day by our project partners, Pöttinger Landtechnik and Deula Nienburg to share their stories and experience with their Zambian peers. During their presentations they gave an overview of the development of European agriculture from horse drawn implements to modern agricultural machines and practices and further outlined the strength of the German Vocational Education System and the benefits they found in the system as young farmers.
Participating institutions included the Zambia Young Emerging Farmers Association (ZAYEFA), the Conservation Farming Unit (CFU) and the Foundation for Empowered Youth in Agriculture (FEYA) as well as the University of Zambia, the Natural Resource Development College (NRDC) and the Chipembe Faculty of Agriculture. With the latter three agricultural education institutions, the AKTC has a close working relationship through delivering practical training for lecturers and students over the past three years.
As a special guest a young female dairy farmer was invited to share her experience of changing her career from accountant to a successful farmer, who is now supplying the country’s major stores with her products.
To have the attendees have a say on their role in agriculture, exchange ideas and outline solutions to the problem they feel the sector is facing, they were divided into four working groups. In these groups, lively interactions and discussions took place and each group’s findings were presented to the audience of the programme.
To further reflect on what was outlined in the working groups, a panel discussion was held, featuring two Zambian young farmers with 200 plus hectares of arable land and one of the programme participants from Europe. The Program was moderated by the Director of Agricomm, a national agricultural radio and communication agency.
One of the main conclusions from these discussions and presentations was that young people can still shape their destiny regardless of their background and/or current status.
To wrap up the morning session of the programme, a very motivating keynote speech was given by the Director of The Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust, Dr. Martin Muyunda, the main counterpart of the AKTC Team. His focus was on youth as drivers of development in agriculture. Through his speech he encouraged the youth to perceive agriculture as a profession that will need the country’s best minds in order to guarantee Zambian food security. Moreover, he was in agreement with the previous presenters and highlighted in his summary that education is vital for Zambia’s agriculture to gain momentum and that the dormant energies of today’s youth need to be revived for the sake of agricultural and national development.
As AKTC is a hands-on training centre, the four groups were given on-field lessons by the specialists from AKTC and the CFU in the afternoon. Demonstrations included climate smart agriculture techniques, a soil profile and agricultural mechanisation.
The conclusion of this successful day was that - although there are many impediments that may seem to lie in the path - there are also many opportunities for young people in Zambia to look forward to a successful future in agriculture.