In a sector associated with toil, sweat, uncertainty, unsafe work and low returns, much of the younger generation (aged 15-17) would rather be unemployed than work in agriculture. To attract more young people, agriculture needs to clean up this image. The ECLT Foundation’s Model Farm Schools in Tanzania are an example of how this trend can be reversed and provide decent work opportunities for young people.
Model Farm Schools
Model Farm Schools (MFS) is an approach for teaching out-of-school children who are above the minimum working age (15-17 years) about safe, rewarding farming. The training takes six months, in the community and is a collaborative effort requiring the inputs of government agencies, agribusiness firms sourcing in the area, the local authority and PROSPER Project.
After graduating from MFS, Amani joined a group of young famers specializing in horticultural crops. After the first season, he received a dividend of $16.50 which was reinvested. By the end of the second year, Amani’s income had grown to $650 and he was able to buy iron sheets for his house. Encouraged by his success, he expanded into honey production and bought 100 beehives. He now expects over $2000 this year. Before MFS, Amani was living on less than $1 per day.
In Tanzania, the ECLT Foundation’s PROSPER Project has implemented MFS training for youths since 2011. More than 400 youths have been trained and equipped with tools to start their own independent farming enterprises. Adult farmers living in surrounding villages have also adopted production techniques taught at MFS demonstration plots. The project has installed drip-irrigation kits to avoid bad weather ruining crops and negatively impacting the livelihood of graduates and local farmers.
A Collaborative & Sustainable Solution
The MFS curriculum was developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives (MOAFSC) and agribusinesses to make sure that youths are trained in crops which meet local demand. Local schools provide a learning space, and local authorities provide land for applied learning in a variety of crops, from maize to non-traditional horticultural crops. The PROSPER project provides tool kits including protective gear and working tools.
In Tanzania, 2,108 young people have been enrolled in MFS since 2011. Over 20,000 people were also educated on the hazards of child labour, including government officials, church leaders, teachers, parents, children and tobacco companies.