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State uses Sh22b to lure youth into farming

By Dominic Omondi | July 14th 2019 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

The Ministry of Agriculture and county governments will mobilise about Sh22 billion to implement a strategy aimed at making farming attractive to young people.

As part of the Government’s goal of addressing youth unemployment, the Kenya Youth Agribusiness Strategy will offer various interventions including mentorship programmes, training and credit facilities to stimulate young Kenyans’ interest in agriculture.

Youth engagement in agriculture, according to authors of the report, has been hindered by lack of information on access to markets, factors of production including land and financing.

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They reckon that the majority of those engaged in agricultural activities are aged between 50 and 65 and still predominantly practise traditional and subsistence farming.

“The decreasing number of youth involved in farming as an occupation/business is a national signal of distress in the agricultural sector. This is already negatively impacting on the economy,” reads part of the report.

Although agriculture remains a crucial plank of the country’s economy, contributing over a third of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), most young people have given it a wide berth. This is even as official data shows that 85 percent of those unemployed are aged 35 and below.

Career of last resort

But with the strategy, Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri’s ministry and the Council of Governors believe they might have found a solution.    

“The low interest in agriculture among the youth could partly be attributed to the public sector systems that have concentrated more on production with limited value addition, processing and marketing. These are the concerns that informed the development of this strategy.”

“The situation is exacerbated by the perception of agriculture as a career of last resort, one of drudgery and low monetary benefits,” reads part of the report.

About Sh3 billion will be used to offer mentorship programmes, provide services including, financial services and market information to about 100,000 youths who are out of school.

Five hundred youth engaged in agribusiness, 10 from each county, will also be helped with faster facilitation of licences; access to credit, technologies and extension so as to scale up.

New entrants into agribusiness will be offered training, business services, business development skills and savings scheme. Innovators will be provided will have access to incubation and tech labs.

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