Land Tenure, Technology & Opportunities in Rural Economies: Dr. Thomas Jayne

Updated : Mar 09, 2020 in Articles

Land Tenure, Technology & Opportunities in Rural Economies: Dr. Thomas Jayne


(applause) I’m so happy to have three gentlemen beside me. They are very grounded and doing amazing jobs in different countries in Africa. So first we’d love to hear something from Thom. Thank you. Do you mind if I stand? (Laughter) I think I’m better when I stand. It’s an occupational hazard. As Beth…sort of paraphrasing some things that Beth mentioned over the next twenty years in Africa, there are going to be 350 young people 350 million young people entering the workforce looking for employment and under the most favorable projections maybe twenty-five percent of them will be able two wage jobs. This means that the vast majority of rural youth, coming out of…looking for employment, they’re going to be reliant on either agriculture or the informal sector, micro-enterprises for their employment. That’s a fact. So this is what the statistics are telling us. So in order for youth to be absorbed in productive employment, they’re going to have to be engaged to a large extent in the agricultural or agrifood system. So that’s not just farming. It’s farming plus the whole agricultural value chain. I think Julius had a session recently that kind of highlighted the importance of looking at agriculture not just farming, even though farming will be the most important employer of youth to come, but it will also be people involved in processing and the retailing and foods away from home, and so forth. I just came back from Ethiopia work and that somebody who’s making a big business out of selling juice on the street side. So getting oranges and pressing fresh orange juice in the front. So, there’s no problem for him to compete beause these big companies selling chemicalized juices and boxes and so forth. It’s a thriving business. So, this is just an example of a kind of employment that youth are getting into with farming. So now, the essentially important point I’d like to make is that there’s a two pronged approach. There’s one that focuses on developing skills, a skills set. We heard this afternoon in the first session about the importance of inspiring people in soft skills. How to seek out opportunities. How to build confidence, especially for women. All of those kind of skills training and so forth. That’s one set of skills. The other component that governments especially need to work on in order for youth to absorb their way into viable employment is through policies, through agricultural policies that expand the opportunities for, not just youth, but for everybody to find money in the soil. Yes, there’s money in the soil, but governments have a lot to influence how much money is in the soil by the opportunities that they provide. So the proven successes that give high payoffs, employ a generation are things like governments investing our R[esearch] and D[evelopment], extension systems, in infrastructure, in health and education. All of those things help farmers be more profitable in their funding activities and here’s the real catch, the most important thing, is this concept of multiplier effects. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with this concept, multiplier effect? This is what it is. Y ou have fifty or sixty percent of the entire population right now in Africa engaged in farming. Now if we can make farming a little bit more profitable, what happens? You have millions and millions of people who are now spending a little bit more money than they had before. So many millions of farmers spending more money. So what do they spend their money on? They spend it on corrugated iron roofing sheets for their homes, bricks, veterinary services for their animals. They’ll spend it on food and all of these expenditures start to create a demand for jobs in the non-farm economy. The people who provide veterinary services, who sell food, who provide punctures for your bicycle tires, who sell all of these services that farmers spend their money on. So, once there’s growth that starts to be going the research has shown that this creates new job opportunities and it pulls the most marginal people in farming out of farming a little bit into viable non-farm, off-farm actives. This has been one of the major sources of poverty reduction in Africa over the past 15 years. So for those of you who are familiar with looking at the poverty reduction trends, you will know that there’s been some major reductions in poverty in a third or more of the countries of Africa. This has primarily occurred by stimulating agricultural productivity growth and by doing that that creates this money circulation, the multiplier effects I just talked about, and this creates a demand for non-farm jobs that pulls people including youth out of Agriculture into other jobs. Now, the risk of me saying this is that the people can say, well, it’s the non-farm economy that’s growing and it is. So therefore, this is where we really should put our focus. We really don’t have to worry about agriculture because it’s a declining sector. This could not be more incorrect for a place like Africa because in order to generate that non-farm growth what’s catalyzing this is the underlying agricultural productivity growth in countries like Ethiopia and Rwanda and Ghana and so forth that have enjoyed a lot of coffee production over the past 15, 20 years. So this is what the research results are showing and it really takes us back to the centrality of focusing on agriculture, but as Lumumba will say, coming up we have a huge challenge in making youth profitable in making agriculture profitable for youth. Here’s a fact we need to wrap our minds around. It used to be a birthright of rural African men to inherit land when they started to farm a family. That used to be a birthright. But, increasingly because of population growth and land constraints filling in maybe twenty percent, twenty-five percent of young men are inheriting land when they reach the age of twenty-five or so, and women are maybe less than two percent because there aren’t very many natural inheritance systems in Africa. So maybe two percent of young women inherit land and it’s maybe twenty percent now of men anything more than a half acre. So think no wonder youth are straining out of rural areas right now into urban areas looking for non-farm work. The opportunities for access to land are crucial now and becoming more and more as time goes on as population rises. Remember Monica Das Gupta in her presentation that she put on the board there. She showed that rapid increase in population Africa. There’s going to be four times more people living in Africa at the end of the century then there are today. So it’s going to be huge. Increasing pressures over looking for land, access so land, that’s our challenge and I think that at this point I’d like it sit down and let Lamumba talk about all the challenges and how to overcome them associated with access to land. Thank you very much. (applause)

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