Young people face many challenges when venturing into agribusiness. However, for Judith Kipchumba, her biggest challenge is her parents who have white-collar jobs.
After earning a degree in economics and mathematics, her parents expected to settle for a decent office job. Yet Judith reveals that her interest has been agribusiness. She tried several times to explain her love for the food industry to her parents without success.
“My parents insist that they take me to school to get a good office job and nothing to do with farming,” she says.
According to his parents, agriculture is not a good initiative. In fact, they denied her her land when she applied to start agribusiness at her home in Elgeyo Marakwet.
After failing to gain support from her family for her agribusiness initiative, Judith moved and settled in Nakuru where she leased land and started seed potato production and cultivation of beans.
Judith was telling her story at an annual Youth Coalition event held in Nairobi, which brought together various stakeholders and organizations involved in training and supporting young people in agroecology, including participatory ecological management of Land Use (PELUM) – Kenya, YALTA, Slow Food Kenya and Africa Academy of Agribusiness.
During the one-day event, young people from agroecological agricultural initiatives shared their experiences, success stories, sustainability, achievements, best practices, innovations and lessons learned.
For the love of agribusiness, Judith pursued a Masters in Agribusiness Development at Egerton University. She explains, “my later studies really exposed me to the real world of agribusiness.”
She explains that she is not alone in this challenge because the parents are the same almost everywhere.
Manei Naanyu, Head of Programs at PELUM-Kenya, said the coalition meeting exposed young people to policy initiatives for agroecology, providing a platform to share experiences, challenges and achievements in the framework of sustainable agriculture initiatives.
She explains that young people face challenges in accessing finance, motivation, market linkages and lack of land.
“Young people feel left out when it comes to funding their startups because financial institutions demand security that startups may not have. They feel they need a financial partner who can understand the status of their startups, so they can grow. Others start and produce products, but when they lack markets, they feel discouraged,” says Naanyu.
She advises parents who still want their children to pursue lucrative white-collar jobs to reconsider and encourage them to go into agribusiness, as farming is also a lucrative and growing industry.
Naanyu says, “Parents also see that agriculture has the skills, you can be self-employed. There will be a change since most graduates cannot find jobs, but in agriculture young people can employ themselves.
Since the land still belongs to the parents, young people find it difficult to know where to invest their agribusiness startups. However, Naanyu advises, “Try to make good use of the share given to you and success can make your parents proud and even give you more land.”
At the meeting, youth from various counties said they are always left behind when discussing important agribusiness issues that affect them.
Mwenda John, a poultry farmer, says it is not easy to know when county executives sit down to discuss youth issues, especially policy.
“Young people are not involved in public participation in the formulation of these policies, especially at the county level. We don’t even know when the people involved meet at the county level,” says Mwenda from Muthara area of Tigania East sub-county.