youths in agriculture farming kenya

Perception of agriculture as a viable economic venture among youth is still low in the country, with just 11 per cent of young people indicating in a new research that they are willing to venture into farming.

The Kenya Youth Survey Report that was released Monday showed that 48 per cent of young people prefer to start their own business compared to 26 per cent who are keen on being employed.

At the same time, 63 per cent of the young people who were polled by the Aga Khan University’s East African Institute indicated that they want the government to create enough jobs for them.

“Unemployment was by far the top concern that the youth want the government to address,” Alex Owiti, the director of the East African Institute, said while releasing results of the study.

“Other concerns were lack of access to capital, lack of business opportunities, discrimination and nonrecognition,” he added.

The survey was conducted in October and November last year and involved 1,854 respondents aged between 18-35 years.

The research showed that one out of every two university graduates was unemployed compared to one in five graduates who had decided to venture into business.

This means that young people with university education were more likely to find a job than start their own business.

The government has created several initiatives to provide young people with the capital needed to start their businesses including the Uwezo Fund and the Youth and Women Enterprise Fund.

The State has also put in place affirmative action setting aside 30 per cent of all public procurement for young people, women and persons with disability but it seems that many people are yet to take up this Sh2 billion opportunity.

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The survey shows that only 52 per cent of young people were aware of the State-funded initiatives, with 76 per cent reporting that they had not benefitted at all from the youth programmes.

Economist James Shikwati, the founder of the Inter Region Economic Network (IREN), said the low participation of youth in agriculture was because farming is still not appreciated by young people.

“We need to deconstruct the word farming and provide the other agribusiness opportunities surrounding it,” Mr Shikwati told Enterprise during the release of the study results.

“When you mention the word farming, many people think you are talking of an old jembe (hoe), the sun hitting your back and sweaty long days in the garden.”

He added that the youth needed to appreciate that there are many other ways of participating in agriculture, including through marketing, mechanics, transport or even accountancy.

By SANDRA CHAO-BLASTO

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