The young farmers’ revolution

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What you need to know:

  • A group of comrades in public and private universities across the country have formed Kenya Agriculture Students Association, an organisation that aims to convince students to embrace agriculture courses.
  • Universities records in Kenya indicate that if the trend continues, we will not have any graduates in agriculture in the coming years.

Many university students shun agriculture courses. For decades, scholars have expressed concern about the declining number of students opting for agriculture studies. Universities records in Kenya indicate that if the trend continues, we will not have any graduates in agriculture in the coming years.

It is for these reasons that a group of comrades in public and private universities across the country have joined forces and formed Kenya Agriculture Students Association, an organisation that aims to convince students to embrace agriculture, and to make them aware that farming can be just as lucrative and interesting as a career in law, medicine or engineering.

They see themselves as ambassadors of change, and their mission is to influence Gen Z and millennials who are about to join university to consider agriculture-related courses.

Evans Ochieng is a fourth year Animal Science and Technology student at Egerton University and a member of Kenya Agriculture Students Association (KASA).
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Evans Ochieng, 22 Egerton University

I am studying Animal Sciences and Technology, and I’m in my fourth year hoping to graduate at the end of this year. I am excited that my comrades have established the Kenya Agriculture Students Association (KASA), a group that aims to convince university students to take agriculture courses, which are often neglected.

I think this is a noble idea that should be supported by the government. I am seeing a lot of possibilities and opportunities.
Agriculture courses are not that boring, they can be as interesting and lucrative as law, engineering, and medicine.

As a director of programmes and career development at KASA, my role is to encourage first year students to consider agriculture courses because I believe that this field will soon grow in demand nationally and globally.

At KASA, we also help mould new students and connect them with job opportunities and youth programmes that can give them a head start in their careers. This is our contribution to reduce unemployment rates among the youth finishing university. We encourage them to be innovative even before they complete their studies. We also plan to visit secondary schools to encourage teenagers to study agriculture.

Personally, I’m excited at the opportunities I see in this field. With the necessary knowledge, skills are resources, we can help farmers in lowland areas boost dairy production and alleviate the food shortage in this country which is now a huge crisis. We need young experts to teach farmers how to do this using the latest technology and knowledge.

I believe this knowledge in agriculture will soon be sought after by employers both locally and internationally, to plug in the widening food insecurity gaps. Therefore, students with skills will easily find jobs, and even create jobs for others. Moreover, they will be able to dictate their own terms of employment. The best time to join the bandwagon is now. Students should discard myths and negative ideas such as the notion that agriculture is for the poor. 

I call on young people to embrace agriculture because technologies like digital farming are now available and have been proven to make agriculture easy and manageable. We can now obtain and analyse data in real-time. Data informs the decisions that farmers make and with the right data, there will certainly be improved yields.

Agriculture was my dream career and joining Egerton University cemented my dreams and ambitions of being a stellar farmer. My passion was ignited while I was growing up in Mbita, Homabay County, where I observed keenly as my parents practiced subsistence agriculture.

I saw them spend so much time and money but at the end of the year, the yield was not enough. That is when I vowed to study agriculture at the university to help them boost production because I saw the food they were struggling to grow for the family was dwindling every year.

Ruth Rotich a second Year student at University of Kabianga. She is studying agriculture education and extension and is passionate about agri-business.
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Ruth Rotich, 21
Kabianga University

As a second-year student at the University of Kabianga taking a Bachelor of Science course in Agricultural Education and Extension, I feel annoyed and disgusted whenever I see young people who are reluctant to get their hands dirty.

Every time young students talk about their ambitions, all I hear them say is that they want to become doctors, pilots, or engineers. This annoys me. I have never heard anyone say they want to be a farmer. Even if you ask a farmer’s son, the answer would very often be the same. I believe we need to change this narrative and the best place is at the university when students are joining as freshers.

This is crucial because often, most of the comrades aren’t in touch with the reality on the ground. Questions like where our food, clothing, and all the necessities come from don’t bother them.

More importantly, we all know the hardships associated with this profession, the uncertainty associated with it and the low monetary reward it offers.

So, right from our childhood, our parents and the people around us have shaped our minds to choose professions that are more likely to bring us respect, money, and power.

I am happy the newly launched Kenya Agriculture Students Association is determined to end the stereotypical mindset. The way we visualise agriculture – poor farmers or labourers sweating profusely to have a good harvest, should be a thing of the past. I believe that if the educated youth start taking farming and agriculture, this scenario can be changed.

The truth is that a farmer doesn’t necessarily have to be dirty and sweaty all day in order to realise a good harvest.

There are so many different options today, especially with the use of technology, which offers more effective and efficient technical knowledge for farmers. This new way of doing things also reduces the uncertainty associated with farming.

If more farmers can embrace new concepts such as vertical farming, hydroponics, and consider better ways of combining agriculture with entrepreneurship, the whole country would be more food secure.

Taking up technical courses in the agriculture colleges by university students across our country would be a game changer in food production.

KASA hopes to intensify study tours to show students how paddy and wheat are sown, harvested, and processed to increase their levels of awareness and interest them in the courses.

Although the current situation isn’t very bright, the future doesn’t seem grim either. I believe that cutting-edge technology will make more and more students become interested in farming.

My passion for agriculture is driven by the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture to my people.

I come from a region where thousands lack access to adequate food, and that is why I strongly urge freshers to choose agricultural courses, because many of them come from backgrounds that lack adequate food.

Arthur Muiruri is a fourth year student at Murang’a University of Technology. He is taking a Bachelor’s course in agriculture education and extension and is also the national chairperson of Kenya Agriculture Students Association (KASA).
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Arthur Muiruri, 23
Murang'a University of Technology

I am a fourth-year student studying Agricultural Education and Extension, and this was my dream career path thanks to the vibrant 4K club programme I was a member of while I was a pupil at Madaraka Primary School in Nakuru.

Joining 4K Club ignited my interest in agriculture as I was taught basic skills in crop production, animal management, agribusiness, and other life skills.

I think 4K Club might help more students pursue agricultural courses at the universities. A popular Swahili saying goes, samaki mkunje angali mbichi, which means it is better to bend the fish while it is still fresh. I think it is highly important to teach and nurture students in secondary schools about new, fun ways of doing agriculture.

I would advise first-years to embrace agriculture by taking the various courses on offer in public and private universities. The courses will provide them with enriching opportunities to establish and manage agriculture projects at home.

KASA is following in the footsteps of 4K Club by promoting interest in agriculture-based courses, helping comrades and youth in general to tap into innovations and technologies to improve production and contribute towards food and nutrition security.

Our members come from different public and private universities and they all have diverse skills and knowledge. This is an association where student innovators get to pool their intellectual resources to address issues like climate change, agriculture, food waste and food insecurity.

I am also a member of the Murang’a Agricultural Students Association where students are nurtured to be the next big farmers, innovators and agri-entrepreneurs in this lucrative sector. 

The president of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, recently said agriculture is a major source of income in Africa, and students pursuing agriculture courses will be change makers because the sector will be one of the biggest by 2030.

That means jobs will be readily available and comrades will never lack jobs or go after the shrinking white collar jobs.

Rose Kavetsa Simwa is a third year student of agricultural economics at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology.
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Rose Kavetsa Simwa, 22
Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology

Iam a third-year student studying agricultural economics and resource management.

Interestingly, agriculture was not my dream course but I was influenced by a mentor, Josephine Kirui, who is a farmer in Elburgon, Nakuru County. She has been in this sector for many years.

She advised me that if I ventured into agriculture, I would never regret. My mentor helped me see the opportunities available in this sector.

As I near the tail end of my undergraduate studies, I am already dreaming of a life in agriculture because the course I’m taking is so interesting and eye-opening. Studying agricultural economics is important for me for several reasons.

So far it has helped me understand the economic factors that influence agriculture, like supply and demand, market prices, and government policies.

This knowledge is crucial as it can help farmers, policymakers and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector to make effective decisions.

Additionally, agricultural economics plays a key role in addressing food security, rural development, and environmental sustainability.

It is for this reason that I encourage comrades hoping to join public and private universities to consider studying agricultural economics so that they can contribute to creating more efficient and equitable agricultural systems, which are vital for ensuring a stable and sustainable food supply for the growing global population. Agriculture is a result result-oriented course.