Young people have the potential and the zeal required to explore various opportunities in the agriculture sector if only they are mentored properly and walked through the journey.
These opportunities are not only in practicing farming itself or livestock keeping but also in other aspects such as marketing, value addition, transport, and packaging among others.
Despite having these opportunities, many young people who wish to pursue opportunities in agribusiness are often faced by numerous challenges. Key among these challenges is limited access to finances, lack of access to arable land and need for digital literacy.
Recently, 60 young people were privileged to benefit from a one-week training on financial and digital literacy which was held in Siaya County. The participants were drawn from Siaya, Kisumu, Kakamega and Bungoma counties.
The training aimed at improving financial and digital skills for the young entrepreneurs in agriculture to boost their businesses. It sought to address a key bottleneck the youth face which is access to finance.
Through the training, the youth were linked to Equity Bank as a financial service provider to better understand the services and products offered which they can apply in their business, such as e-payments, credit facilities and how to qualify for the same.
The youth also had an opportunity to give feedback to the financial institution on how best they can be served and what deters them from approaching the bank.
The initiative is the brainchild of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido), under the European Union-supported Market Access Upgrade Program (Markup) Kenya, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (Fao) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
Create jobs for Africa’s youth
Unido and Fao are currently implementing a programme dubbed Opportunities for Youth in Agriculture in Africa (Oya), which seeks to facilitate and accelerate efforts to create jobs for young people in Africa. This is done by supporting development of agribusinesses and fostering agricultural entrepreneurship including through leveraging public and private investment in agriculture.
Speaking during the opening of the training, Fao Sub-Project Leader for Inclusive Value Chains Tito Arunga urged the youth to pay keen attention, learn and implement the lessons by actively getting involved in agribusiness.
In the era of digitalisation, he reminded them that the world is turning into a global village and young people need to be up to date with technology in order to tap existing and new opportunities.
“Digitalisation is a great tool to drive agribusiness, beyond this training, we are hoping to witness you excelling in agribusiness,” he said.
Players in agriculture sector
Markup Kenya National Coordinator Maina Karuiru said the programme is keen on supporting the youth and women as they are key players in the agriculture sector.
Markup Kenya is implemented by Unido in partnership with the government and the private sector.
Mr Karuiru hailed partnerships among development partners, saying this way, more young people are reached to and empowered through trainings and mentorships.
“There is a lot of power in partnership and the training of these young people is evidence to the same as a larger number was reached out to,” he said.
Siaya County Agribusiness Officer Sarah Mango said the county has already formulated a youth and agribusiness strategy which will be launched soon.
Get into groups
She called on young people to organise themselves in groups, noting that this way, they can easily be reached to by the government, development partners and other institutions and organisations of interest.
“For youth to conveniently and effectively participate in issues such as advocacy and marketing, they need to be organised in groups,” noted Ms Mango.
She pointed out record keeping as a major challenge among not only young people but also older farmers, and suggested that a digital app be developed in this regard, saying it would be exciting to young farmers.
Beneficiaries hailed the initiative saying they had gained a lot of knowledge and were ready to implement it to enhance growth along their agribusiness ventures.
“If we all implement what we have learnt, there is a great future for young people not only in the counties represented, but also in the country at large,” said Mr Anthony Mbuya, 29.
Another trainee, Ms Judith Ngesa, 36, said she looked forward to more trainings on digitalisation, adding that while she found it useful and interesting, she still needed to boost her digital literacy.
“As a vegetable seller, I have a lot of interest in agribusiness and I believe it is time to go digital,” she said.
According to one of the trainers, digital skills will enable young people to efficiently and effectively access agriculture services such as market and finance and promote registration of agri-businesses via e-government services.
“Digital skills and literacy for agribusiness will also improve climate-smart farming through agri-technology,” said Mr Patrick Maina, a digital literacy consultant at Fao.