Youth And Agriculture

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By Mahathir Mohd Rais

Agricultural sectors back in the 1960s were imperative as their development contributed to the overall economic growth of the country. The essence of this industry was one of the main focuses then as it yielded one-third of the country’s GDP, therefore providing half of the total employment and 50 per cent of the foreign exchange earnings. While in the seventies, this industry posted a whopping eight per cent growth.
One of the main achievements of this was the establishment of the First Malaysia Plan in which five main policies were implemented specifically focusing on skilled and young agricultural workers.
Fast forward to today, agriculture no longer tops a youth’s careers wish list. Why?
The answer is simple, it’s because youth in rural areas fail to see the potential in agricultural sectors even when job opportunities are readily available there. Having said that, these are not the only reasons why youths are shunning the industry. Instability of income, lack of financing and inability to access financial assistance from local banks and microfinance institutions, shortage of land and labour, and lack of private sector participation seem to also be culprits obstructing them from pursuing a career in the sector.
This is also forcing youth in rural areas to move into the city and settle into lower-income jobs with poor working conditions.
These are several factors making youths unkeen to engage themselves in such a potential sector.
Regretfully too, there isn’t much effort or campaign held to establish firm solutions in order to achieve sustainable development in the agriculture sector among youths.
Therefore, we need to put emphasis on practical education, startup resources, market information, technology, and programs that can help the young people to see potentials in agricultural sectors, their values and chains which is actually capturing real opportunities.
Neglecting and prolonging such causes of action will only increase the economic and social costs to the country in a long run. 
We need to support the youths of this country as much as we can as they are the pillars of our economic growth.
Hence we need to equip them with better tools, open them up to more opportunities, help them in lifting certain barriers and most importantly provide them with the right solutions.

About the author: Mahathir Mohd Rais is the Bersatu Segambut Division Chief of Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia. This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.

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