By Chifundo Mtema
Malawi has a youthful population within the age bracket of 15 – 24 out of the estimated 17.2 million people who were unemployed between 2005-2011. Some of the youth are orphans while others come from single headed families resulting in huge challenges for them to realize their dreams and full potential. Despite efforts to develop policies and a conducive environment for young people, tangible benefits are yet to trickle down to those on the grassroots.
Young people have a critical role to play in shaping Malawi to be an economic power house, it is imperative therefore that entrepreneurial skills are made available and accessible. This will help the youth to be independent and contribute positively in their societies and the country at large. No wonder that the Pan African Fisheries Association Conference (PAFFA 6) youth side event under the theme “Youth in Aquaculture and Fisheries: Unlocking potential of young people for sustainable Aquaculture and fisheries”, is expected to give hope to youths of this country.
The side event created space to allow discussions on how young people can be actively engaged in innovative fish based agribusinesses, research, and linking of young people to mentors with vast experiences in fisheries and aquaculture development.
The fish value chain continues to grow locally and internationally; it is important that youth take advantage of such an opportunity. With Malawi relaying heavily on tobacco, now facing problems including the global anti smoking lobby. It’s high time that the country jump ship and direct its focus on diversifying its export base. One such area that has the potential to bring the much needed foreign exchange is the fishery sector as PAFFA 6 aims at empowering the youth in agribusiness.
The youth should therefore be given the driving seat to move this industry forward. As it is correctly and repeatedly said, youth are not the leaders of tomorrow rather they are leaders of today.