What you need to know:
- The initiative is aimed at creating jobs for the youth by offering them affordable credit facilities for start-ups in agribusiness.
- Kiunjuri said he endorses the bid to ensure more youth in rural areas take up farming as an income generating venture to improve food security.
Kakamega, Bungoma and Siaya have come up with strategy that makes farming an appealing venture
Three western Kenya counties have fronted a proposal to inspire the youth to take up agriculture and reduce unemployment.
The initiative is aimed at creating jobs for the youth by offering them affordable credit facilities for start-ups in agribusiness and ensuring market access for their produce.
In the initial phase, 800 youth from the counties attended a conference on agribusiness at Bukura Agricultural College in Kakamega County.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said the ministry endorses the bid as part of a countrywide programme to ensure more youth in rural areas take up farming as an income generating venture to improve food security.
The measures include a policy that favours local farmers, making farming an attractive trade to even the educated youth.
“The youth face many hurdles in trying to earn a livelihood from agriculture and agribusiness. Pressure on arable land is ranks high, making it difficult for the youth to start new farms,” Mr Kiunjuri said.
He added: “The youth lack access to credit, improved technology, practical skills and fair markets necessary as well as other logistics and services for success in agribusiness.”
The remarks point to the lack of a comprehensive policy to turn farming into careers.
Currently, maize and sugar cane farmers have cried foul after imports flooded their markets, making it difficult for them to sell their produce with some being forced to shut down.
Officials did not explain how they will start the credit lines for the upcoming farmers.
Mr Kiunjuri made the remarks in a speech read on his behalf by Mr John Mwaniki, the director for Policy Research and External Relations in the Agriculture ministry.
“The poor state of agricultural productivity and youth’s low interest in farming, lack of industrial firms to process agricultural products and skilled labour among others have led to a worsening food deficit,” Mr Kiunjuri said.
Mr Mwaniki said agricultural production has dropped due to high acidity levels in the soils.
Farmers in the regions have been urged to apply lime to the soils to improve productivity.
The conference to promote the “Kilimo biashara kwa vijana” (youth in agribusiness) was organised by the German Development Cooperation.
The deputy head of co-operation at the German embassy, Dr Marius Rauh, said the national draft strategy on youth in agribusiness was developed by the government with support from partners to stimulate youth’s interest in agribusiness.