Kenyan Government in fresh bid to lure youths into agriculture
After numerous false starts to have the country’s youth participate in agricultural production, the government has a new concept it believes is concrete enough to rejuvenate the sector through young people. The renewed attention on youth participation in agriculture, according to Agriculture Cabinet secretary Willy Bett, is to ensure that the country’s youth fully participates in the sector.
The initiative is aimed at scaling up food security programmes and in the process create jobs and increase trade opportunities. Bett confirmed the ministry has established a new national programme that has been discussed with donors on how to involve the youth in the many opportunities available in the agriculture sector.
“We have had a number of false starts in the past, but now we can officially announce that we have a solid concept on the table in a strategy discussed with donors which we are rolling out in a couple of weeks,” Bett told journalists at a joint press conference with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) assistant representative Robert Allport.
In the concept, CS said, the government has a keen interest in exploiting ideas the country’s youth have through technology, mainly in the name of value addition. Bett said the ministry is focused on actualising the African question which has been around for a while, on how to engage the youth in agriculture, mainly commercial rather than subsistence.
“But for the youth to find agriculture attractive in the new programme, we want to establish mechanisms of subsidising the cost of money given out as credit so that we can make investments in agricultural production affordable,” said the CS. He said the government is keen on creating forums through which the country’s youth can benefit from numerous success stories around the continent.
“This will be done through road shows across the 47 counties,” said the CS. Allport said FAO is supporting the programme through skills development, youth access to land, provision of market infrastructure, financing and insurance, among other online technologies.
The new concept also advocates curriculum change in the three levels of learning right from primary through secondary to university. This means that, the country’s young people, are enticed and given the opportunity to choose agriculture while they are young, understand and internalise it so that it makes sense at a very basic level.
“We will want to see a situation where we transition life from primary, secondary to university in order to have agriculture as the basic subject of interest,” said Bett. The announcement comes in the wake of revelations of new agriculture policies meant to entice the youth to venture into farming.
“The Ministry is making effort to ensure the youth can be motivated to actively participate in farming at all levels of production,” he added. The new policies target mechanisation of agriculture as one of the areas to be addressed shortly to make the sector more attractive to the youth.
He said the youth cannot use the old traditional methods of farming anymore when dynamism in technology calls for the establishments of best practices, using science to increase productivity per acreage. Data at Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that, the country faces a gap of around 11,000 tractors, which if injected into the system, the country will achieve 50 per cent mechanisation in the agricultural sector.