Why youth shun farming ventures and solutions

Kelvin Maina, a fresh farm produce trader dusts his goods at Kwa D.O Stage in Kayole, Nairobi. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Youths face many challenges as they venture into agribusiness. However, for Judith Kipchumba, her biggest challenge is her parents who on a white collar job.

Her parents expectations after she pursued a degree in Economics and Mathematics, to settle for a decent office job. Yet, Judith reveals her interest has been agribusiness. She has on several occasions tried to explain this to her parents about her love for agribusiness without success.

"My parents insist that they took me to school to get a good, office job and not anything to do with farming," she narrates.

According to her parents, farming isn't a worthy initiative. In fact, they denied her land when she requested to venture into agribusiness back home in Elgeyo Marakwet.

After failing to get family support for her agribusiness initiative, Judith moved and settled in Nakuru where she hired land, and started potato seed production and beans farming.

Judith was narrating her story at a Youth Coalition Annual Event held in Nairobi, that brought together various stakeholders and organizations involved in training and supporting youths in agroecology among them Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM)-Kenya, YALTA, Slow Food Kenya and Africa Agribusiness Academy.

In the one day event, youths in agroecology farming initiatives shared their experiences, success stories, sustainability, achievements, best practices, innovations and lessons learned.

For the love of agribusiness, Judith pursued Masters in Agri-Enterprise Development at Egerton University. She explains, "my further studies have really exposed me to the real agribusiness world."

She explains, she is not alone in this challenges because parents are the same almost everywhere.

Manei Naanyu, Head of Programmes, at PELUM-Kenya says the coalition meeting exposed the youth to policy initiatives for agroecology, providing a platform to share experiences, challenges, achievements under the sustainable agriculture initiatives.

She explains youths face challenges in accessing finances, motivation, market link ups and lack of land.

"The youth feel that they are left out in terms of financing for their startups because financial institutions require security that startups may not have. They feel they need financial partner that can understand the status of their startups, so that they can be able to grow. Others start and produce products but when they lack markets, they feel discourage," explains Naanyu.

She advises parents who still want their children to pursue lucrative white collar jobs to reconsider their stand and encourage them to take up agribusiness, because agriculture is also a growing lucrative industry.

Naanyu says, "Parents are also seeing that agriculture has the skills, you can self-employ. There's going to be a shift since most of the graduates are not getting jobs, yet in agriculture youths can employ themselves."

Since land is still owned by parents, youths have challenge where to invest their agribusiness startups. However, Naanyu advises, "Try to make good use of whatever portion you are given and the success can make your parents proud and my even offer you more land."

At the meeting, Youths from various counties said they are still left out during the discussion on important issues in agribusiness that involves them.

Mwenda John, a poultry farmer says that it is not easy knowing when the county executives sit down to discuss matters relating to the youth, especially the policies.

"Youths are not involved in public participation on the formulation of these policies especially at the county level. We even don't know when the people who are involved meet at the county level," says Mwenda from Muthara area of Tigania East Sub County.

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