It is argued that even though agricultural production is the sector that provides more opportunities such as jobs in Malawi, the youth are marginalized and pushed to the periphery of several development policy interventions. A study by Chinsinga and Chasukwa (2018), finds that young people do not value agriculture as a means of upward social mobility. The youth and agriculture policy frameworks provide little support to youth in terms of access to affordable farm inputs, land, extension services, value addition initiatives, and markets. It is argued that Malawi is missing the strategic policy direction by not implementing non-traditional agriculture interventions that would engage the youth in a bid to reduce massive youth unemployment.
Malawi has a youthful population. The 2013 Malawi National Youth Policy categorises young people as all those between the ages of 10 to 35 with the acknowledgment that ‘the definition is quite flexible’ (Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, 2013). According to the Malawi government, estimates from the National Statistics Organisation (2019), held that 60% of the 18.63 million people in Malawi are the youth and the last two censuses, 2008 and 2018, indicate a growth from 13,029,498 to 17,563,749 individuals in 2018. This represents an increase of 35%.
NfYD believes that Malawi has potential to strengthen agricultural production if the youth are part of the agricultural initiatives, young people are willing to be involved in agriculture but they have not been integrated fully.
Some studies reveal that upon completion or dropping out of school, many of the youth find it difficult to integrate systems which can make them useful and responsible members of society. At the same time, cultural beliefs and practices on inheritance do not only discriminate against female youth but also hinder early uptake and ownership of land required for investment and intensification. As the population of the youth increases and as the life expectancy of the elderly improves, the aspirations of the youth to inherit or own land may take longer and perhaps even get more complicated due to competition. Youth might instead start searching for alternative livelihoods and, depending on their social and geographical contexts, the opportunities will differ.
As a contribution to the sector, NfYD implements projects that encourage young people to consider agriculture part of the livelihood. The organisation implements the Sustainable Agriculture Lead Farmer Program whose main goal is contribute to food security by enhancing rural community’s capacity to adapting to the effects of climate change through the adoption of various sustainable agriculture (SA) technologies. The program is being implemented in Mzimba North, Mzimba South, Nkhatabay, Dowa and Lilongwe rural.
In addition, NfYD is implementing a four year food security, nutrition and climate change resilient project which specifically focuses on small holder female small holder farmers, youth and other vulnerable groups and the project is targeting 20 000 young farmers.