Why local youth aren’t interested in agriculture

AGRICULTURAL sectors back in the 1960s were imperative as their development contributed hugely to the overall economic growth of the country. This industry was one of the main focuses as it yields one-third of the gross domestic product, therefore providing half of total employment and 50% of foreign exchange earnings. Hence, in the 1970s, this industry posted a whopping 8% growth in multiple of its sectors.

And one of the supreme achievements was the result of the First Malaysia Plan in which five main policies were implemented, focusing on skilled and young agricultural workers, and it was therefore sporadically established. 

Consequently, today, we realise that agriculture does not top the youth’s career wishlist. Why? Their perceptions have been the main barrier in connecting them with the superiorities of this sector, even when job opportunities in such a sector are available, definite and legitimate. 

Often, youth in rural areas fail to see the potential in agriculture due to their lifestyles growing up in smallholder communities, where, often, struggles against the unfavourable market are witnessed, mostly unfavourable due to environmental factors and barely capturing profit no matter the physical toil.

Having said that, these aren’t the only reasons. The performance of agriculture today is also unfavourable due to several other factors including low productivity, overdependence on rain-fed agriculture, low use of agricultural inputs and also poor marketing systems.

It is also due to such factors that youth in rural areas are forced to move to urban and informal sectors, where low incomes are synonymous with poor working conditions. 

Poverty, unstable income, lack of financing and poor access to financial assistance from local banks and microfinance institutions, shortage of land and labour, and lack of private sector participation seem to also be obstructions, therefore making things even more difficult to deal with. These are several factors that are critically adding more problems, making the youth even less keen on engaging in such a potential-rich sector.

Regretfully, there aren’t many efforts or campaigns being held to establish firm resolutions to achieve sustainable development, especially involving youth in the agricultural sector.

Therefore, we need to emphasise practical education, start-up resources, market information, technology, and programmes that can help the young people see the potentials in the agricultural sector and its values and chains. 

Neglecting and prolonging such causes of action will only increase the economic and social costs to the country in the long run. 

We need the youth to support the economic growth of this country, so we also need to provide them with better tools, open more opportunities, help them in lifting certain barriers, and, most importantly, provide them with solutions. – June 16, 2022.

* Mahathir Mohd Rais is Bersatu Segambut division chief.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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  • Please consider the thoughts of the majority of youths.....

    No sitting in air-con. No chance of meeting "gadis". "Siapa mahu kawin seorang petani?"

    Even parents want their children "jadi" doctors, engineers, etc.

    Posted 2 years ago by Malaysian First · Reply

  • Alternatively the government should lease land to anyone for large scale farming.

    There should be NO racial discrimination otherwise like many policies, it will fail.

    Posted 2 years ago by Malaysian First · Reply