Agriculture is an incredibly important sector, as it feeds a nation and contributes to the economy in various ways.
In 2020, over 1.8 million people were employed in the agricultural sector in Malaysia, but only 15 percent of the 800,000 members of the Farmers’ Organisation Authority are below 40 years old.
The youth are considered a key agent in socio-economic development and technological innovation in Malaysia.
Making up around 44 percent of the total population in the country, the youth represent a significant workforce by driving technological development and entrepreneurship.
There are many factors as to why agriculture isn’t seen as attractive or lucrative to the young and educated workforce, namely a lack of prestige and more promising futures in non-agricultural sectors.
As Malaysia pivots towards a modern agriculture, wherein it becomes more knowledge intensive rather than labour intensive, the youth may find themselves more inclined to work in agriculture.
Modernising the sector includes employing sustainable agriculture development through technology, which the youth are more well-versed in.
Working in agriculture doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get your hands dirty, as there are many activities that support agricultural production.
For example, building facilities to better control elements of farming like sunlight, humidity or more efficient watering systems for crops can lead to improved and higher crop yields.
The Sarawak Government has introduced several programmes and incentives to entice the youth to embrace agriculture, especially in entrepreneurship.
The Agricultural Entrepreneurs’ Development Programme offered by the Department of Agriculture (DOA) Sarawak intends to develop 200 potential young entrepreneurs in the State.
DOA Sarawak also offers other sub-programmes related to agropreneurship training and advisory services.
For those interested in agriculture but don’t have land to start farming, agro-parks are available to rent.
As Sarawak looks to become the food basket of the nation and export high value produce overseas, youth involvement in modern agricultural development is being continuously pushed.
The implementation of smart farming opens up opportunities for training and employment for young Sarawakians as digital natives.
Encouraging the youth to start new and innovative agricultural development projects can lead to long-term careers as agricultural entrepreneurs.
A high value agricultural sector can boost the State’s economy, as Sarawak currently spends more on importing food rather than exporting.
In the long run, this could impact the country’s economy negatively, which is why food security and sustainability has become an important topic.
Moving forward, the modernisation of agriculture is essential to the country and youth involvement is necessary in this drive to do so.
Youth participation in agriculture can transform the sector into a competitive, vibrant and sustainable one.
Read more: Why young Sarawakians should consider a career in agriculture
Read more: Career Advancement in Agriculture
Read more: Understanding Agricultural Entrepreneurship
Photo by Mark Stebnicki from Pexels.