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Friday, 22 August 2014

Reasons why youths should venture into farming

By Bob Aston
Youth unemployment has remained one of the most daunting challenges in Kenya’s socio-economic development. Today, unemployment in Kenya stands at 40%, and 70% of those unemployed are between the ages of 15 and 35.
The problem is mainly attributed to inadequate employment and livelihood opportunities in rural areas, hence disillusioned youths migrate to urban centers to look for such opportunities.
Youths are particularly vulnerable to economic problems. They often do not have access to savings account, credit or insurance but in them also lies a large untapped opportunity that can help address the high unemployment in the country.
Youth farmer tending to his crops
Agribusiness has great opportunities that can help millions of youths earn a decent living through farming. Youths are viewed as the future of the agriculture sector and it is clear that they are set to play an important role in ensuring that there is food security for future generations.
The notion held by youths that farming is old fashion and is done only by peasants has already started changing as more youths are realizing that one can earn a decent living through farming rather than looking for a white collar job which in most cases is always elusive.
The perception still being held by some youths that farmers have to dig using hoes and wearing overall is misleading as most farmers are currently practicing modern farming methods.
Farming is increasingly becoming cool as most youths are no longer averse to soiling their hands to earn a living where their less creative contemporaries see no money.
Venturing into farming, particularly horticulture can ensure that youths not only earn a decent living but they earn more than their contemporaries who are doing white collar jobs.
Practicing agribusiness enables farmers get good returns from their produce. This has ensured that some farmers earn more than 10 times what they could have earned when employed.
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.
Lack of financial services as well as access to land is among the key challenges that youths face when they want to venture into farming. This has significantly contributed to lack of livelihood opportunities among youths.
Financial access would go a long way towards ensuring financial inclusion of youths but this has been a problem mainly due to inability to comply with the high transaction costs, lack of the required financial documentation, lack of collateral, inappropriate and inaccessible financial products offered by financial institutions and poor financial capabilities of the youth.
Youth farmer at his farm
Need to increase the financial capability of youths is of utmost importance as financial institutions rarely treat them as “clients” but rather as “beneficiaries.”.
According to a report released by World Bank in January 2014 titled Youth Employment in Sub- Saharan Africa, eleven million youths are expected to enter Africa’s labour market every year for the next decade. The report argues that scaling up support to access opportunities when they arise is essential in empowering the youth.
The Kenyan government is currently providing various opportunities for youths to empower themselves. The Uwezo Fund, a flagship programme for vision 2030 aimed at enabling women, youth and persons with disability access finances to promote businesses and enterprises is one way that youths can use to access funds.
Another initiative conceived by the government is the Youth Enterprise Development Fund which was formed with the sole purpose of reducing unemployment among the youths. The Youth Enterprise Development Fund has also partnered with Amiran Kenya Ltd to support young farmers in acquiring a tailor made Amiran Farmers Kit (AFK) designed specifically for the AgriVijana Loan.
Making agriculture attractive to young farmers will go a long way in ensuring that more youths join farming. Agriculture is currently one of the most lucrative businesses that someone can engage in the Country.
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