Why Agribusiness is a desirable pathway for Kenya’s youth

Kenya’s youth (18-34 years) account for about 30% of the total population, according to the 2019 population census. 75% of the total population is under the age of 35, a clear indication that Kenya comprises young people, and the number is likely to go up in the coming years.

According to the UN World Population Prospects, by 2050, the number of youth in Kenya will reach 17.9 million, more than double in 2011. This means that between 2011 and 2050, the working-age population will exponentially increase. This fact highlights the urgent need to create employment opportunities for new labour market entrants and the challenge Kenya faces of aligning employment growth with that of the population.

KENAFF Youth development programme core team and the youth council in a team building workshop.

The World Bank report showed that Kenyan agriculture could account for about 75% of informal employment in the rural areas and a considerable part of the population; over 80% derive their livelihoods from agricultural- related activities. The agricultural sector remains a principal source of employment, the backbone of Kenya’s economy.

The economic pillar of Kenya’s Vision 2030 further identifies agriculture as one of the key sectors to deliver a 10% annual economic growth rate. Considering the high youth unemployment rate in Kenya, the agriculture sector offers multiple livelihoods and employment opportunities. However, the majority of the unemployed youth are moving away from the agricultural sector to other non-agricultural sectors in urban areas. The average age of farmers in Kenya is 60 years, yet the country has a massive population size.

Over the years, the Government has committed to addressing youth issues, including unemployment. Despite the interventions by the Government and other private agencies, the agricultural sector is yet to exploit the youth’s potential. KENAFF recognizes that the challenge in the agricultural sector is ensuring optimal utilization of youth potential in contributing to the sector goals of achieving food and nutrition security, income generation, decent employment, and wealth creation. The recently launched KENAFF Youth Development Programme is an idea whose time has come.

The programme aims at; enhancing youth engagement in agriculture, promoting agribusiness as a desirable pathway for employment and wealth creation, and promoting youth leadership at all levels.

The programme seeks to lay down multiple youth- oriented strategies that will reverse the current trend of youths withdrawing their participation in the agricultural sector by making it more attractive as a career choice and livelihood option. It aims to achieve this by tapping into the dynamic and innovative youth workforce.

Young farmers during the national potato conference and trade fair 2022

This programme’s conceptualization and rolling out is premised on the desire to have a holistically transformed youth in agriculture for a sustainable economy. The youth must be involved in the development programmes to reduce dependency syndrome and turn them into a productive force. The target areas include, but are not limited to;

  • Lobby and Advocacy
  • Youth Mobilization
  • Agriculture Rebranding
  • Capacity Building
  • Value chain Mapping and Exposition
  • Resource Mobilization
  • Mentorship and Coaching
  • Network and Linkages
  • Media, ICT and Innovation
  • Data, Research and Information

Ultimately, the programme seeks to create a powerful movement that shall transform into a strong, vibrant, influential, semi-autonomous young farmers’ Federation in Kenya. Capitalizing on the KENAFF Youth Summit will be made possible. The youth must be mobilized, organized, and supported in leveraging the opportunities in the agri-food sector.

The impact of youth involvement and participation in agriculture and food systems will be evident in sustainable economic growth and reducing poverty and malnutrition across the country. The youth may as well tap from the wisdom of Dr.Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank, who said, “millionaires and billionaires will not be coming from the oil and gas sector, rather from the agriculture sector.”

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