Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), addressing youth unemployment, and promoting entrepreneurship are all top issues on global and national agendas, and there is a need to address them cohesively. In response to the rising levels of youth unemployment in Kenya, several stakeholders in the agriculture sector have begun initiatives to provide opportunities for employment and income generation among young people.
The youths constitute a diverse and unique group of energetic, innovative people eager to apply their skills to solve problems and bring change to their communities. Therefore, tapping into the entrepreneurial and innovative energy of the young people is an excellent opportunity for Kenya to revitalize and enhance her local economies.
In an ever-changing and increasingly complex economy, entrepreneurship is a critical factor for the survival of young farmers and is not to be underestimated as a value creator. Young farmers have a preference for short-season and high- value farm enterprises that include horticulture, poultry among others.
However, young entrepreneurs encounter diverse challenges that curtail their active participation in agriculture. Some of these include inadequate access to crucial resources such as finance, land, access to training, education, and information which must be addressed if the youths are to embrace agriculture as a profitable and exciting career path.
Youth targeted interventions should focus on certain key areas to realize the high impact. First and foremost, they should provide specific entrepreneurship training for young entrepreneurs. Skills development better equip young people to identify and engage in decent and profitable agribusiness ventures.
Secondly, initiatives should encourage innovation to embrace new technologies and innovative farm practices to enhance the agriculture sector’s productivity and effectiveness.
Thirdly, the young people should be given a seat at the table. Policies and initiatives are rarely successful if the decision- making process does not engage the end recipient. Young people have an insatiable appetite for engagement, and not engaging them can have disastrous consequences. It is necessary to form a network of young entrepreneurs in agriculture to drive dialogue, action, and change—ensuring their interests are included in every conversation.
Additionally, interventions should actively involve young agripreneurs in the design of agricultural projects targeting the youths, acknowledging the diversity of young men and women of various age groups, and intentionally integrating young people into the agri-food system based on evidence-based practice approaches. With the support of the private sector, the youth can be provided with incentives to engage more effectively and productively in agriculture through internships, apprenticeships, and training programs. Lastly, work with partners from multiple sectors and influence policymakers to adopt and support successful youth employment and entrepreneurship models.
KENAFF, through her youth development programme is mobilizing a youth- owned, youth-led, and youth-driven action towards sustainable food systems and promoting agribusiness uptake. The initiative combines market-relevant skills training, mentorship, internships, and access to financial services to help young people better their lives, transition to sustainable livelihoods, and contribute to social and economic change. Ultimately, establish a national young farmers’ organization to bring together young farmers in Kenya to speak in one voice and as a platform for growth and sharing opportunities.