Kenya agricultural sector needs the young generation to revitalize and enhance agriculture as an enterprise. To thrive in this sector, we need the innovative energy from the young generation. In Murang’a County which is about 100 KM East of Nairobi, it’s refreshing to encounter a team of youth who are passionate about farming. Constant capital like land is a challenge for the youth who want to venture into agriculture but the team is utilizing the digital space to transform farming into money making scheme, in addition this has led to significant reduction in waste, labor costs and increased operational speed.
The University graduates whose agricultural innovations are literally spitting out profits are working with the Forum for agricultural Advisory Services, Kenya (KeFAAS) the Kenya Country chapter for the African Forum for Agriculture Advisory Services (AFAAS). They are implementing a project on strengthening, Agricultural Knowledge and innovation ecosystem for inclusive rural transformation and livelihoods in East Africa (AIRTEA) which is funded by the European Union through the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern Africa (ASARECA) and Eastern African Farmers Federation (EAFF) to venture into agriculture.
In order to achieve this task of promoting the well- being and inclusion of young people(youth and women) in agriculture development through partnerships, capacity building, and advocacy, the Forum recognized the need to strengthen external systems. Therefore, KeFAAS has partnered with a GoK/World Bank supported project being implemented in several Counties across the nation; the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP), Murang’a County. The Digital connectors are anchored within the existing Innovation Platforms (IPs) referred to as the agricultural value chains in the NARIGP project. The IP supported are Avocado, Banana, chicken and Dairy which are in-line with their initiatives.
The project is building capacity(capacities) of Digital Connectors (DCs) to offer services through the digital platforms to reach more farmers and get some gainful employment. In addition, they have been equipped by Ag connectors who empower them to make a direct impact based on the respective priority areas in their own communities . Ag connectors expertise is rooted in ‘on-the-ground’ experience of reinforcing capacities through joint learning to build lasting partnerships.
Inspirations and lessons from this team can inspire other youth into farming, Julius Kimuhu is a DC and the owner of Ukulima Modern Seedlings and Consultancy whose effort is to Supply quality seedlings, do farm visits and trainings and provide timely Agriculture Extension Advisory Services (AEAS) to farmers. “Being in agribusiness and particularly having identified a niche in helping farmers access high quality certified seedlings and offering them general but critical planting and orchard management, practices, has helped me earn fortunes and a living by being economically independent in an era where the rate of unemployment for the youths has been on the rise in Kenya.” Said Julius.
He urged the fellow youths to build on practical skills towards on-demand skills and constantly seek relevant information and networks which is critical to leverage one’s potential and exploit opportunities whenever they arise. “Being consistent and persistent remains the secret and the most critical hurdle to overcome in a society where instant gratification has become a norm.” the seasoned young farmer and a holder of a Degree in Agribusiness Management with Information Technology added.
Nellius Wambui serves farmers in Kahuro sub-county by providing Local access to inputs and AEAS services through her enterprise; Smart Farm Agro inputs and advisory services. Her urge to be an entrepreneur was born after graduating from the university and with time she attained experience in business management and marketing through digital platforms. Her message to the fellow youths; “learn to be patient, persistent and consistent and this will win the trust of your clients. Starting a business seems to be impossible, but the best thing is to take a step and your dream will definitely come true”. Nellius said.
Mbau Margaret one of the digital Connectors offers extension and consultancy services, linking them to quality certified agro farm inputs such as fertilizer, seedlings and pesticides besides she provides quality animal feeds and animal supplements.
The other DCs doing amazing jobs are Martha Wairimu with an enterprise called Pedigree Dairy Cows; offering Market for fodder and silage, training facilities and equipment, promotion and marketing of the business. Joseph Ndung’u is running a poultry enterprise; JOYEN poultry (Chicks), his main drive is to quality chicks, Chicken vaccination services and provide AEAS to the poultry farmers. Mercy Wambui Soil testing and nursery management, provide seedling as well as the AEAS to farmers.
Finally, we have Fridah Wanjiku a seasoned female extensionist doing organic seedlings and model farm for trainings and EAS. “I love dairy farming because one cannot go wrong with the milk market, in addition I get manure that enables me to produce other food crops like vegetables and arrowroots organically. I have kept dairy cows and the heifers which are assets.” She Said.
Fridah is advocating for the youths to venture into farming even as they continue to pursue their other goals, this will enable them to make a living, build their skills besides they can make a profession out of farming if they are ready and dedicated .
Written by Silivia Mburugu, KEFAAS CIKM