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Monday, 24 February 2014

Youth ventures into maize farming

By Bob Aston 

It is estimated that 64% of unemployed persons in Kenya are youths. The problem is attributed to inadequate employment and livelihood opportunities in rural areas, hence disillusioned youths migrate to urban centers to look for such opportunities. This is not the case for 26 year old James Mwai, a youth residing in Sipili town in Laikipia County who has decided to venture into farming.
Mwai resigned from his teaching job at Young Heroes Primary School to start farming in Machunguru area.
Mwai accessing internet at Ng'arua Maarifa Centre
Mwai has leased a half an acre piece of land which he intends to cultivate by planting maize. He said that maize production in the area is high and most people in Machunguru area are maize farmers. He plans to plant either H520 or H6310 maize variety which he said is the most preferred maize variety by farmers in the area.
“I have never practiced farming before but I have really been encouraged by my parents and other colleagues who have been farming. I want to start with half an acre and next season I will look for an acre of land. I will probably plant H520 as I have heard that their seeds normally do very well,” said Mwai.
Mwai has little knowledge of agriculture but said that he has been going to Ng’arua Maarifa Centre to access agricultural publications, use the internet to get more information about maize farming as well as seeking for advisory services from the Centre’s staff.
“I have seen farmers come to the Maarifa Centre for advisory services and I am encouraged to do the same. The information that I have gathered at the Maarifa has been invaluable. I have been capacity built and I think I am now ready to start farming,” said Mwai.
Ng’arua Maarifa Centre was founded by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN). The centre offers various services like; market linkages and information through Sokopepe, publications, advisory services, internet access, multimedia content, ICT Training, E-government services, library services, Citizen Journalism training and Tangaza Pesa Money Transfer.
Mwai accessing internet at Ng'arua Maarifa Centre
Mwai plans to join Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society as he said that he wants to enjoy the benefits that people who are in a Co-operative normally enjoy. He is now set to buy certified hybrid seeds from the Co-operative.
“I can encourage my fellow youths to be very active in agriculture as it is the backbone of the economy. Youths who shun agriculture should realize that it is self inclusive and people of all ages can invest in it,” said Mwai.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) 2013 Economic Survey, agriculture, which grew by 3.8 per cent, contributed 17.6 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.
“I want to get good returns. I will not give up if my yields are poor. I have to try and succeed in farming,” said Mwai.
Mwai said that farmers in the area normally get an average of 10 bags in a half an acre piece of land. He said that he is also aiming to get 10 bags of maize once he harvests in October.
Vision 2030’s Economic Pillar envisages the agricultural sector among the six key growth drivers of the Kenyan economy.

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