Aspirations of Rural Youth Towards Agriculture: The Case of Hulet Eju Enese woreda, East Gojjam zone

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Addis Ababa University


Beyond the contribution of agricultural sector as alternative source of employment to the growing youth populations, the youth are the key to the future of agriculture. But, how the young people respond to small-scale farming and can the sector meet the aspirations of youth will be critical in terms of both future employment and food security. Thus, an understanding of the aspirations of rural youth towards agriculture and the factors contributing to their opinion formation is important for the development of the sector and youth employment in agriculture. The data presented in this thesis is drawn from in-school and out of school rural youth that have been categorized in to four different age groups to understand how and why aspiration and hopes change in the life course of young people. In the study, qualitative methods (in-depth interview, focus group discussion and key informant interview) and survey were used in Hulet Eju Enese woreda, East Gojjam zone. One high school was purposively selected and two kebeles having upper level primary schools were randomly selected for the study. Accordingly, in the selected schools and kebeles, in-depth interviews were conducted with eighteen people and three key informants. Four FGD sessions, two with each kebele, were also held with young farmers. Quantitative data was obtained from a survey of 188 randomly selected in school youth, 121 from high school and 67 with upper primary students. The study revealed that most of the rural boys and girls aspire to non-agricultural occupations. The absence of access to different kinds of services and infrastructures at a desired level to youth in rural areas compared to the urban make agriculture and rural life unattractive to youth. The general characteristics of agricultural and/or rural life (for instance backbreaking nature of the sector) have also contributed for youth to aspire non- agricultural career. Moreover, the social environments close to rural youth (e.g. family and media) have influenced youth to aspire beyond agriculture. But a significant number of rural youth show a desire to engage in agriculture if favorable things are there in the sector at least as transition to ‗best‘ means of livelihood. Thus, modernization of the sector and improvement of agricultural productivity, have influenced youth likelihood to engage in the sector. Nevertheless structural problems; land shortage, asset problems (like shortage of money), the problem of agricultural input, attitudinal problem, and backwardness of agricultural tools are among the constraints the youth face to start and/or do farming as their means of livelihood. I argue, therefore, improving the condition of rural life by increasing access to basic services, modernizing the practice of agriculture and changing the attitudes of the community is necessary to encourage youth involvement in the sector. Moreover, due attention should be given to structural problems like scarcity of farm land and accessibility of farming inputs to improve agricultural productivity and youth employment in the sector