The average age of a farmer in Kenya is 61. In a country where nearly 75% of the total population is below 35, youth unemployment has remained at nearly 20% for the last ten years. For many of Kenya’s unemployed youth, agriculture presents a viable business opportunity to create a long-lasting livelihood. The agriculture sector, however, remains largely unattractive to the youth and their participation is hindered mostly by lack of access to land, finance, and markets.
As part of Africa Lead’s strategy to lead African agriculture transformation, one of the key points of focus is nurturing and cultivating the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs as they enter the workforce in the agricultural sector, by ensuring that youth view farming and agribusiness as a viable commercial activity. Towards this end, Africa Lead hosted the National Youth Forum and Champions for Change (C4C) Leadership Training for youth leaders from across 13 Kenyan counties from October 23 – 26, 2018 in Kiambu County.
With 40 youth leaders in attendance, the youth forum and C4C training were held to explore existing youth activities in agriculture value chains, and to identify opportunities to expand and catalyze others under the implementation framework of the Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS), National Agriculture Investment Plan (NAIP), and the National Youth in Agribusiness Strategy (NYAS), which recognize the potential of youth in transforming and growing the agriculture sector.
The youth forum comprised interactive and engaging sessions in which participants identified existing youth agribusiness innovations in various value chains, and developed an action plan to promote agribusiness for Kenyan youth.
Using a customized version of Africa Lead’s flagship Champions for Change (C4C) curriculum to suit the youth’s learning needs, the three-day C4C Leadership Training was aimed at scaling up existing youth innovations in agriculture, developing relevant business skills, and developing an action plan to grow the agribusiness ventures of the participants. Representatives from private sector agribusinesses including Twiga Foods and Policy and Market Options, as well as Farm Concern International participated in sessions where they shared practical steps to starting and sustaining an agribusiness.
Speaking on the limitations youth face in participating in agriculture, Didas Mzirai, a participant from Taita Taveta County noted that, “youth need to be empowered and to be integrated into agriculture. [We] need technical and financial support to realize business ideas, and to incorporate ICT in agriculture so that agriculture can be viewed as a cool business for [us] to venture into.”
A major exercise during the C4C training was a value chain mapping exercise that helped participants to identify the appropriate value chain for their agribusiness ventures.
At the end of the training, the youth committed to doing business differently equipped with the new skills and networks they had developed. “From this training, I have learned other principles of business that will help me improve my business. Specifically, I have learned how to identify opportunities for business within various value chains, about financial management, leadership, and discipline when it comes to agribusiness,” said Andrew Makatiani from Kakamega County.