How an agricultural programme is getting more youth into smart farming

Peter Otieno, 28, is a resident of Suba North, Homa Bay County in western Kenya. For many of his peers, agriculture is frowned at, with many young Kenyans considering it an old people’s business.

The Kenya Youth Agribusiness Strategy (2018-2022) highlights key challenges that make agribusiness unattractive to young people in the country. According to the strategy, the sector is yet to fully exploit the potential of the youth and it remains largely unattractive. The situation is exacerbated by perception of agriculture as a career of last resort, one of drudgery and low monetary benefits. Information
on access to markets, factors of production including land and financing remain extremely limited hindering adequate engagement of the youth in agriculture.


The strategy further notes that majority of those engaged in agricultural activities are aged between 50 and 65 years and still predominantly practise traditional and subsistence farming. The decreasing number of youth involved in farming as an occupation or business is a national signal of distress in the agricultural sector.

For Peter, farming has been a business venture, not just a traditional practice. “Youth always refer to farming as a dirty job, but I am here to prove that it is beneficial.” He is a beneficiary of the Drought Tolerant Crops (DTC) 4 Youth Jobs Creation project implemented by Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International, and International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), and KUZA in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation.

“I come from a humble background. I was a farmer but only used to plant maize for my family consumption and one acre of my land given to me by my father. The combined cost of land preparation, fertilizer cost as well as cultivating and harvesting was high.”

Peter would then be introduced to the programme by a friend. His life, he says, changed completely. “I was given foundational groundnuts variety seeds by International Crops Research Institute and Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International and taught on how to plant. I was the first one to plant groundnuts in my area. I did it on  an eighth of an acre.”

After harvesting, Peter got 200 kilogrammes of unshelled groundnuts, sold 90 kilogrammes to ICRISAT at Sh27,000, another portion to local buyers and reserved the rest for his family. “I couldn’t believe the proceeds from my farm, I used part of the money to complete the construction of my house. I used the remaining amount to plant sorghum, millet, and maize and expand my my business.”

Stated in 2022, and expected to end in 2027, the Drought Tolerant Crops (DTC) 4 Youth Jobs Creation project seeks to address food insecurity and create jobs to more than 150,000 youth, 70% women and 30%men  through Agri-preneurship, sggregation, seed, multiplication,  enhancing the uptake of digital technologies for last mile access to information and skills.

 

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