4 Common Misconceptions Young People Make about Farming

Monday, October 19, 2015

I often hear and read about the challenges of attracting young people to farming because young people are currently not interested in agriculture. What I've realized is that most young people think that  a career in agriculture simply involves long days labouring in the hot sun. Yes, it is hot right now! But what they fail to realize, however, is that agriculture is an industry with an entire spectrum of possibilities.

Some of the common words I often hear thrown out about farming, even from some of my friends and peers, are:

“boring, lack of social life, poverty, and retirement career.”

 I find these to be myths, and would like to address them:

1. Farming is boring

There are so many things to do on a productive farm that “boring” would not be a word used to describe them.

There is also a lot of technologies that young people can adopt that can make farming not only interesting but also profitable. Some examples include using  soil moisture sensors for smart irrigation to reduce water waste, using software for tracking farm data for better decision making and tracking agriculture information using your phone, whether it's smart or not.

As a young farmer, I can tell you that I do my seedlings on our farm using less water, less money and fewer hours in the hot sun simply because I choose to use the float try system versus the more labor intensive traditional methods.

There is also the serenity and calmness of farm life. As a child, I remember going treasure hunting on the farm and my mum having to look for me and my siblings to come back into the house for lunch or once it got dark. For teenagers, farm life is great because it is fun to have friends over and have a braai (barbeque) by the dam and watch the sunset over the water. There’s a lot of space to practice driving without the fear of running over someone or crashing into an expensive car. And now as a young adult, the farm is the perfect place to be away from all the loud noises of city life, the fresh air is relaxing and I now appreciate why my own parents saw it as an ideal environment to raise a family.

2. Lack of a social life

There is no way you cannot have a social life on the farm because you are constantly surrounded by people, especially if you are farming in Zimbabwe. I like that I can hear all the latest gossip from the farm workers and it is always more dramatic when they retell it. Most of my friends live in the city (Harare) and it is always a treat to have them over and have a real farm-grown breakfast! Besides, I’m not trapped on the farm, I can go to the city when I like and visit those friends that are not about that farm life or bug life.

3. Poverty

I’m not really sure where this one comes from because I know a lot farmers who are very well off and earn much more than guys in the corporate world. The key for these farmers is managing their farms like a business. Now I’m not one of those rich farmers (yet) but I wouldn’t describe my financial state as poverty.

I’ve heard my peers say that “farming just isn’t cool” or “I don’t want to be in the sun all day.” Let me tell you what is not cool: being broke, and having no money in your pocket—that’s what’s not cool! Farming allows you to be self-sufficient and to cover your basic needs.

While I work on the production side of the agriculture industry there are many levels on the agriculture supply chain--including farm input supply, farming & ranching, processing, communications and logistics. For example, you could be a distributor and sell the produce for the farmers to the finished market—it’s not always easy for us farmers to be involved in EVERY stage of the supply chain. So we need your help to reach better and more secure markets.

 Also while we may be good at growing food, many of us are not creative. They are many opportunities for creatives like graphic designers and artists to create eye catching logos, promotional materials and packaging for our farm-fresh produce.

4. Farming is only a retirement career

Now this one really gets to me!!! How can someone in their retirement age keep up with all the tasks, employees, and work involved on a productive farm. I thought this was just a problem here in Zimbabwe but my travels have shown that the average farmer is over 60!!! If we are going to feed the growing world population we need more young blood involved in agriculture, young people coming up with new ways for doing things and improving on the old farming methods our parents and grandparents used. The future of agriculture depends on our involvement. Farming is not and should not be considered a career of last resort.

I’m currently working with young farmers and unions around Zimbabwe. I'm hopeful because I already see a lot of great work going on that is inspiring young farmers and others to find a spot for themselves in the agriculture sector.

Leave your comments bellow on what you like about living on a farm or on other reasons why young people should get into farming.


Kundai is the co-founder and co-editor of Emerging Farmer. She is an emerging farmer, and entrepreneur. She grows, processes and distributes mushrooms and vegetables and raises pigs on her family's farm. Say hello @kundeezy

Disclaimer: while Emerging Farmer does everything to ensure the accuracy of our guides, it is important to contact an agronomist or your Agritex officer for accurate recommendations for your farm. Emerging farmer takes no responsibility for any losses or damage incurred due to information in this guide.


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