The youth have been urged to utilize their skills to accelerate transformation of the agricultural sector which forms the main pillar of Kenya’s economy.
They have further been challenged to contribute in providing solutions that enhance market linkages to promote agribusiness.
Patrick Maina, a digital literacy expert said that digital marketplaces and e-commerce platforms have a great untapped potential to create millions of jobs for unemployed population.
He was speaking in an interview as the globe marked World Youth Skills Day on July 15.
“Most youth are tech savvy. It is a call to them to use their knowledge in addressing the challenges in the agriculture sector to optimize production and revolutionize the global food chains,” he said.
An estimated one million Kenyan youth join the job market annually but with limited white collar jobs, smart agriculture is the next go-to opportunity.
With the skyrocketing food prices, Maina challenged the youth to venture into the sector and aid in incorporation of modern and sustainable practices aimed at reducing production costs.
“Youth have are rich in knowledge that can help in increasing productivity and mitigate climate change. This will cut down on the rising food prices in the country,” he said.
Maina urged the youth to grab training opportunities such us the European Union-funded Markup Kenya programme being implemented by United National Industrial Development Organization in partnership with the government and private sector..
“We need more interventions to promote uptake of digital technology in agriculture. This will shift the mindset of the new generation of farmers to commercialize the sector,” said Maina.
He added that digitalization of the sector requires collaboration from state and non-state actors noting that a majority of the youth shy from the ventures due to lack of sufficient capital.
The sentiments have been echoed by Mwangi Kamau who leads a group of 20 youth from Pwani Village in Njoro in a circular economy at their Bee My Partner farm.
“The youth have the energy and skills to transform agriculture but lack sufficient capital. They also need further training and a change in attitude towards agriculture,” said Mwangi.
The Economics and Statistics graduate from University of Nairobi said that he quit his job with a view of leading his peers in the village to utilize their energy and idle lands to maximize earnings.
“Most farmers have a conservative approach to agriculture. Those in commercial production do not incorporate the right strategies to make it more economically viable,” said Mwangi.
The circular economy project involves use of skills and innovations that minimize production costs and environmental degradation while maximizing production in interlinked food chains.
“Waste from our chicken is fed to worms which are in turn used to supplement their feeds. This reduces the amount of chicken feed required,” said Mwangi.
Water from fish ponds is also mixed with chicken waste and used in ponds dedicated to production of algae.
“The water is rich in nutrients and facilitates quick growth of algae. Algae provides landing spots for the bees while drinking water and is also an alternative source of protein for chicken,” he said.
While the group keeps bees for honey production, the busy insects facilitate quick pollination in fruits and herbs.
“We combine all waste from the value chains to produce organic fertilizer which does not upset the environment. With a circular economy, farmers can greatly improve their earnings,” he said.
He added that the model farm has continued to attract more youth eager to learn and replicate similar projects on their farms.
“We are in the process of expanding our venture as it has proven sustainable and economically viable,” he said.