Agriculture still needs young people, women on the farms

Society

Agriculture still needs young people, women on the farms


Small traders peddle cassava in the streets of Kisumu. PHOTO FILE | NMG

Summary

  • Women provide an average of 40 percent of the labor force required for agricultural production on the African continent.
  • Africa is a young continent with 60 percent of its population under the age of 24.
  • The Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) supports young people and women in agriculture through various initiatives.

If you’ve ever driven along a major highway in Africa, you won’t miss the women and young people crowding at bus stops, agricultural produce in their hands, looking for buyers for their wares. Giving this group entrepreneurial skills could boost agriculture in Kenya.

I would like to present two strong arguments as to why we need greater involvement of women and young people in agriculture. One is pragmatic and the other strategic.

Let’s talk about pragmatics first. There is no doubt that women make up half of the population in Africa. Likewise, they provide an average of 40 percent of the labor force required for agricultural production on the continent.

The statistics for young people are no different. Africa is a young continent with 60 percent of its population under the age of 24. Of this population, approximately 12 million join the workforce each year.

So no matter how you look at it, more people have a lot to offer for agriculture to thrive, thus contributing to food production as well as improved livelihoods through job creation. .

A more strategic look brings us back to the old adage: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” By focusing our agricultural development efforts only on the older generation of farmers, the solutions we offer will be very limited to what existed and did not work many years ago. Involving women and young people in the agro-industry will open up new horizons and new opportunities. The new form of agriculture should be at the same level as other choices such as artificial intelligence, robotics etc. available to our young people.

Most people born in the mid-90s have probably never known a world without smartphones. This is the age when one of the critical technologies opens up great opportunities for farmers.

The smartphone gives many farmers access to agricultural knowledge, advice, weather forecasts, digital banking and market information to sell and improve productivity. Young people are the tech-savvy ones and can develop these solutions with the click of a button. But due to limited business advisory services, funding and training, these young people are hampered by a lack of opportunities and access to the relevant skills and resources they need to drive their enthusiasm for the idea. to the successful business.

At the Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC), we support young people and women in agriculture through various initiatives. One of them is the AgriBiz program aimed at increasing the engagement of women and young people in agribusiness.

The program, supported by the European Union and Danida to the tune of 5.1 billion shillings, offers young people opportunities for business training, funding, mentoring, incubation and networking. Since its creation in 2020, more than 800 young entrepreneurs have participated.

The AgriBiz program will finance 2,400 agribusiness businesses run by women and young people and create more than 20,000 job opportunities in five years. Since Kenya has a growing youth population and our state of unemployment, the agricultural sector offers the best option to reduce unemployment.

The World Bank predicts that African agriculture and agribusiness will grow into a € 890 billion industry by 2030. This provides an incentive for young people who can operate the industry as farmers and entrepreneurs.

With the increasing population in Kenya, this creates an opportunity for farmers to produce more and increase our income.

To encourage and help more young people find decent work in agricultural value chains, the program offers eight Business Incubation Centers (BIH) in eight counties.

These are Bungoma, Kisii, Kiambu, Uasin Gishu, Isiolo, Meru, Kilifi and Machakos. The centers serve as central venues providing training, business advice and funding to enable women and young people to develop their agribusiness businesses.

Any program to tackle youth and female unemployment should focus on the structural constraints to job creation, including in agriculture.

The potential of this approach is quickly felt. From mobile apps such as Okoa Foods, which allow smallholder farmers to sell their produce directly to consumers, to drones to monitor the health and productivity of tea and other crop plantations across Kenya, advancements in agro -industry are excellent.

With the BIH clusters taking shape, KCIC will be launching another call for applications, which will be nationwide and target women and young people looking to breathe new life into agriculture through agribusiness.

Imagine how we can significantly transform agriculture and food security in Kenya if we empower women and youth to tackle the challenges we face. The future looks bright.


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