By: Modou Touray
In an aggressive farming campaign, the deactivated National Youth Association for Food Security (NAYAFS) is making a strategic move to replace the elderly members of the youth association with 40 youths to attain their goal of championing youth participation in farming to ensure food security
The youth are the cream of society with the required strength to engage in farming since the youths who have been running the association in the farming campaign for more than 25 years are above the youthful age of 35 years.
According to Mr. Alieu Sowe, the National Coordinator of the National Coordinating Organization for Farmers Associations the Gambia (NACOFAG) highlighted the weakness of the youth farmer association largely is due to the generational gap
“The members have grown older with other commitments and engagements and can no longer partake in meaningful functions to ensure youth participation in enhancing food security,” Mr Sowe asserted.
The National Youth Association for Food Security (NAYAFS) is a member of the umbrella farmers body – The National Coordinating Organization for Farmers Association (NACOFAG).
“The over-aged members of the National Youth Association for Food Security are embarking on a reform process to include younger members below the age of 35. The role of youths in agriculture is crucial as the elderly lack the physique and adequate time to engage meaningfully and productively in ensuring food security. The initiatives of family farming emanated from the NAYAFS. The Youth Farmer Association is indeed weakened,” Mr Sowe added.
However, Mr Sowe further added that access to life opportunities particularly land and other productive resources by youth farmers continue to be challenging. Youths over the past years have been marginalized with a limited voice to raise issues in the public space and contribute to their own development.
Agriculture remains a determining factor in the economics of the African states and the lives and livelihoods of their populations.
“The idea of establishing NAYAFS was (FAO’s) food and agriculture organization of the United Nations initiative during the international youth forum in 1996 held in Rome, Italy with a view for youths across the world to work towards the promotion and participation in food, nutrition, income and employment security,” Mr. Sowe revealed.
He also said that following its establishment in 1996, the association in collaboration with development partners has contributed enormously to the achievements of its objectives and targets related to food security, trade justice and employment.
Given the challenges confronting NAYAFS, the members of the association with farming stakeholders convened a day forum to highlight their overview strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats /limitations which may influence positively the strengthening of the NAYAFS.
As part of the reactivation process of the National Youth Association for Food Security, family farming, and youth in agro-entrepreneurship are high on their agenda.