The agrarian sector will soon have a shortage of workmen. Young people have to be motivated to follow an agricultural education. Show them they could be an entrepeneur, creator and marketeer in one.
You are young and feel like becoming someone. But do you want to become a farmer?
The agrarian sector will soon have a shortage of workmen. This is not only caused by the so called aging which makes it hard for many sectors to fill in job positions. More worrying is that already a couple of decades the number of young people choosing for agricultural education is declining. There is an urgent need for educational institutes and professionals to revise the education program as soon as possible.
Being a farmer isn’t something every little kid dreams of anymore. Despite the popular television program Farmer wants a wife (or whatever it is called in your country) this profession still seems unpopular. The job has a bad image; one has to work 24/7 without getting paid as good as your best friend who only sits behind his desk. In addition the job is tough and dirty and it seems very hard to maintain business in the maze of European regulations.
The issue becomes seriously problematic if the number of young people choosing for agricultural education keeps on decreasing. Not only do we need them to grow our food and to keep the countryside attractive. It is exactly this group who can make the sector become more sustainable and environment friendly and thus more attractive. A young farmer could work more efficient, pays effort to create more biodiversity and ensures shorter distances between producer and consumer.
The creators of the new CAP are also aware of the situation give a lot of attention to young farmers in the proposals for the reforms. On top of the regular subsidies young, new farmers can apply for a so called top-up* which enables them to get bigger loans and to invest in their farms. However to take the first step of being a farmer, you have to follow an agricultural education first.
A majority of the worlds’ population lives in cities now. Many youngsters born and raised in cities never get in contact with farms. It is exactly these people we need to make aware of the option to become a farmer or an active participant in the agricultural sector. Apparently the crisis in Greece already influenced a migration to the countryside and a growing interest for agriculture. The rest of Europe should follow soon.
Agricultural education centers need to reconsider their education program to make it more attractive. They should communicate that farming could be more than taking care of cows and watering the plants. It is a profession in which food is the main theme. This should be reflected in the education program. In the marketing strategy the schools should take into account that they should not only attract the traditional group of youngsters from the countryside. They should pay extra attention to get the youth from the cities in their schools as well.
You have to make young people clear that they could be a creator, a nature carer, an entrepreneur and marketeer all in one. Then many young people will confidently choose for the farming sector.
*In the current proposals for CAP 2013 the top-up consists out of a sum 25% of the average direct payments of the country one farms in x the number of hectares a new, young farmer owns)
Inge de Boer, Head of YFM CAP research team