For too long young people in this country have had a raw deal but Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Henry Mussa is arguing that government has a turning point , in a tough economic climate, to improve their lives.
Mussa was speaking in Palriament during the debate on the African Development Fund loan for Agriculture Infrastructure and Youth in Agribusiness Project authorization Bill to December 6, 2016.
The Bill seeks to authorize the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Goodal Gondwe on behalf of Malawi to borrow K16.1 Billion from the African Development Bank (ADB).
The objective of the loan is to promote economic growth and food security through irrigation development, value chain development and expansion of opportunities in agriculture.
“A youth is one who is between the ages of 18 and 35. When you look at our graduates from Form 4, for example, every year we have those passing out to the tune of 50,000. When you look at those who are absorbed into our tertiary programmes, they are not more than 10,000. You are left with 40,000 and then in our Tevet Programme, there are just about 2,000, making it 12,000. We are now left with 38,000 youths. These are youths not only about their age but have also graduated from Form 4,” said Mussa.
He said the Agriculture Infrastructure and Youth in Agribusiness Project will help improves the lives of the youths apart from the current strategies.
“ In our technical colleges here today, we are talking about value addition. Remember, Malawi’s economy is agro-based. We cannot run away from this one. We have to treat this programme as a business. I am talking about modern technology. It is not the kind of agriculture where you talk about a hoe, an axe, shovel and the panga. That is not the type of agriculture we are talking about here. These skills here are modern and mechanised kind of agriculture. Believe you me, with the land that we have in Malawi and this youth bulge, we can do a lot in our social and economic development of our yout,” Mussa said.
He told the House that from next month, the African Union has adopted as a theme what we call harnessing the demographic dividend by investing in the youth.
“ In there, an economy like Malawi, there is nothing about agro-businesses, value addition chain. To me this is the way to go if we value our youth,” said Mussa.
He continued: “When you go through into component two, it is very clear. Crop production, we have the Greenbelt Initiative programme. Now it is the Greenbelt Authority. There, we are talking about pieces of land to be subjected to mechanised kind of agriculture. We need energetic human beings. These are the youth that have dropped out of school and some of those that definitely are informal and have not even gone to school but will be useful here.
“We also have Youth Entrepreneurship. We have failed as nation for a long time because we have given start up capital, equipment to the youth that don’t value to entrepreneurship. As a result, you remember the EDEF and MARDEF Programmes. All those have actually crumbled because the youth had all these resources but no idea on how to run a business. What is capital, what is gross income, what is your interest and so on and so forth? For that reason, we need to go back to the drawing board and teach our youth on how to manage a business.£”
He urged the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) to kindly look at the programme positively and “together let us join forces to make sure that our youth benefit socially and economically.”
In his contribution to the debate, former vice president and npw Mzimba South West MP, Khumbo Kachali said:” I will talk about Mzimba South West where I come from. In places like Edingeni, Engalaweni, Kapopo, we have youth that completed Form 4, youth that are graduates. My question is, how do we categorise them so that they can also benefit? “
He said when considering the bill , legislators should alsi think of how many more programmes they egoing to have for the youth in orderto see change in their lives.
“We are aware that when we campaign, most of the youth are the ones who lead our campaigns. But at the end of the day, they go back home with nothing. Mr Speaker, Sir, it is my humble plea that as government brings a bill like this one, it should also consider such bills in most of the areas, especially, Mzimba South West,” said Kachale.
Member of Parliament for Nsanje South West, Chidanti Malunga commended government for its efforts to address the problem of unemployment among the youths.
He cautioned government to ensure that the loan and the project be implemented to completion as such loans look good on paper but implementation on the ground is a challenge, citing examples of the greenbelt initiative and rehabilitation of agriculture schemes.
The loan is K16.1 billion will be payable in 40 years, with a grace period of 10 years.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :