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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Agribusiness has potential to reduce youth unemployment

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 youths.
Agribusiness has the potential to not only grow the economy but also create an exponentially large number of jobs than any other sector in the country thus reducing unemployment amongst the youths.
Agribusiness encompasses a wide range of activities that generate economic value. Agribusiness includes all businesses involved in agricultural production, including farming and contract farming, seed supply, agri-chemicals, farm machinery, wholesale and distribution, processing, marketing and retail sales.
The need for agribusiness development in Kenya is undeniable, especially for the largely young and rural population. An agribusiness development path would contribute substantially to poverty reduction and improved social outcomes, forming part of a socially-inclusive development strategy.
An agribusiness-led development strategy, with stronger productivity growth throughout the entire agribusiness value chain system, offers the best opportunity for rapid and broad-based economic growth thus leading to job creation for the youths.
Farmer displaying some of his produce
The Kenya Agribusiness Strategy seeks to make Kenya’s agribusiness sector a competitive driver of growth.  It proposes how the agribusiness sector can play a key role in realizing Kenya’s 2030 vision of annual economic growth rates of 10 percent. The strategy, if successful, will deliver wealth creation, job creation and food security. The Agribusiness strategy also lays down the foundations for positive and sustained growth of the agribusiness sector in the long term.
Investing more in agribusiness could ensure the country realizes the potential of the agriculture sector across a wide range of sub sectors including; food, textile, energy industries and biotechnology. Agro-industrial activities lend themselves to creating jobs in rural areas where there are many youths.
Improving the country’s agriculture and agribusiness sectors means higher incomes and more jobs particularly in the agricultural input industry, agro-industry products and equipments for processing, financing, marketing and distribution services.
The expansion of employment through downstream agro-industries processing value chains may be one of the few local paths of empowering youths. To ensure this is achieved, it is important to enhance and strengthen linkages with industry through agro processing and providing value addition to agricultural products.
In order to reap the benefits of job creation, it is important that policymakers and development partners target interventions along the entire agribusiness value chain, and not just agriculture. Of particular importance is creating farmer-agribusiness linkages which will play an important role in the development of small-holder commercial agriculture and in the development of domestic capacity for increased value added for agricultural produce through processing.
Vision 2030’s Economic Pillar envisages the agricultural sector among the six key growth drivers of the Kenyan economy.
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