Youth adopting ICTs in agriculture – Kenya News Agency

Innovative agricultural technologies and practices have the potential to improve the productivity and efficiency of agricultural sectors.

The government recognizes the potential of using data and ICT technologies in the development of agriculture by promoting digital solutions, especially for young aspiring farmers

With the average age of farmers at 60 and young people pursuing non-agricultural careers rather than following in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents, young people interested in the agricultural sector are now calling on policy makers to move from the simple normal farming and inculcating technology so that they can venture into the sector

Although some of them are interested in the sector and think that they could transform the sector, however, they say this can only happen if the government preaches agriculture as a profitable and exciting career for the young people in their instilling training and courses from an early age. education and in technical training institutes.

According to the Youth in Agroecology and Business Learning Track Africa (YALTA) program launched in the country to showcase best youth-led agroecological practices developed by young entrepreneurs, agriculture is a viable and profitable business opportunity.

Run by the Netherlands Food Partnership, the YALTA initiative equips young people in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia with life skills to start a business and career in agroecology.

Speaking to the KNA at a Youth Coalition meeting which brought together youth from various counties to share and compare their notes on agribusiness, Faith Njihia, Project and Finance Manager of Africa Agribusiness Academy, which leads the YALTA initiative, said its goal was to ensure sustainable development. agriculture in order to improve employment trends for young people.

“We work in eight countries and here in Kenya we have worked with county governments and also SMEs that are on the ground to identify the young people we are training on financial management, how to brand and market their products and also in promotion through ICTs in their agricultural enterprises.

The workshop, Njihia said, is about coalition meetings where young people who have been trained and are venturing into agriculture share their experiences, lessons learned and network with each other.

She explained that 95% of the young people they work with are under 25 and fresh out of college and eager to start something that will keep them afloat due to a lack of jobs.

“Most of these young people have come to value agriculture more than white-collar jobs because of the technology in use today. However, the lack of access to funds and mentoring programs remains a big challenge,” she said.

She encouraged parents to help develop, support and nurture the talents of young people, as not everyone is cut out for office jobs. “Going to campus means adding more knowledge that can be applied in other areas like agriculture.”

; Harriet Amondi Ochar, 23, Founder and CEO of Bester Enterprises, explains her peanut business

Njihia called on young people to follow their passion, to be self-sufficient as long as it brings them income.

A beneficiary of YALTA programs, Judith Chepchumba, who produces beans and seed potatoes in Nakuru County, said she has always disagreed with her parents who normally think she should get a job as white collar instead of venturing into agriculture.

“My parents keep telling me that the business I’m doing should be a back-up plan and that I should look for another career that matches what I studied in college. future for me in this business and my parents have always been farmers,” she said.

Harriet Amondi Ochar, 23, founder and CEO of Bester Enterprises which deals with groundnut farming and value addition in and around Kisumu, says that when she started with a simple idea, she never imagined that his idea could produce a business that now has over 50 youth groups as members.

“The idea of ​​peanuts just came when I was on campus and most people didn’t like the margarine commonly used for their bread and longed for something else,” said the recent University graduate. from Egerton who was taking a course in food science and technology.

She explained that although most of them use their parents’ land for peanut production, they do so on about 10 acres and the produce they receive is supplied to Egerton University and the remaining product turns peanut butter spread.

Amondi says she started her business in 2020 after being trained in agroecology through the YALTA program.

“I found out about this program on a social media platform. I got the opportunity, interviewed and qualified after submitting my idea and products. I even got a donor who funded me Sh500,000 to start and grow my business,” she explained.

Amondi said that currently the group supplies EUGN1 i.e. groundnuts (small red) and also a variety of EUGN2 (large red) seeds which do well in the loamy clay soil of the region and work with farmers in different regions of Siaya, Homabay and Kisumu by training and engaging them in groundnut production to meet demand.

She reiterates that young people today are on social networks and new technologies, they want to be independent and not depend on their family for basic needs and if they have the opportunity, they can fill the great void that the parents left in agriculture. Company.

As a group, she said that having learned about organic farming, the peanut butter they produce is natural with no added additives, so they were able to attract customers and support themselves.

“We sell our end product from Kshs 50 up to Kshs 800 and our markets, we do that through social media, word of mouth or even door to door. We also set aside 20% of our profits and use it to lend and grant to the same young members who want to venture into side jobs in the agricultural sector,” she said.

She confirmed that they currently have representatives in 10 counties and are able to market and supply their products to their customers.

Amondi says that over the next 10 years, she would like to see her company become one of the country’s leading peanut exporters, having direct and indirect employees who are young, energetic and ready to fend for themselves instead of being idle doing nothing or relying on white collar jobs.

Manei Naanyu, program manager for Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) in Kenya, said they will coordinate youth activities as part of an annual coalition program under the YALTA program and will support them.

“Today’s meeting exposed young people to policy initiatives for agroecology and gave them a platform to share experiences, challenges and achievements in sustainable agroecology initiatives,” said- she explained.

Manei noted that through the workshop discussions, most young people simply want the government to give them a seat at the table by including them from the grassroots at the policy-making level so that they can also add their voice in agriculture.

Most of the young people who attended the workshop were able to share their successes, encourage each other and discuss issues of agriculture, finance, volunteering and also the opportunities they need to take advantage of.

Manei urged the organizations working under the PELUM umbrella bodies to continue to support and work with young people by involving them in their programs.

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are already bringing new dynamism and potential to agricultural practices around the world, with young people ready and eager to master the technologies and apply them to agriculture not only to increase productivity, but also to demonstrate to other young people that agriculture can be a viable and profitable business opportunity.

By Wangari Ndirangu

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