The Minister for Planning and Vision 2030, Mr. Wycliffe Oparanya, teamed up with Yatta MP Honorable Charles Kilonzo to instill a mentality of smallholder agribusiness among the Kenyan youth recentl
In an effort to nurture a new crop of “Facebook Farmers”, the Next Generation Farmers Initiative is looking to put up an Amiran Farmer’s Kit in every school countrywide. The Kit is fully equipped with a greenhouse, drip irrigation system, water tank, seeds, and fertilizers. It also comes with training, agro-support and much more.
Already the kit has been installed in 250 schools. However Abbas Gullet, KRCS’ secretary general, announced his intention to scale up the initiative by placing the Amiran Farmer’s Kit in more schools. This follows a 95 percent success rate in well over 50 schools that had installed the kit in North Eastern, Ukambani and the Coast. These schools had just completed a successful pilot season.
Besides enhancing food security, Amiran Farmer’s Kit has been shown to enrich students’ diet, while acting as an educational tool for greenhouse farming and drip irrigation. Since these schools have been making money by selling excess produce it has enabled students to appreciate agriculture as a business.
Pledging support for this effort was Dr. Dina Mwenzi, the Director of Training, Ministry of Youth Affairs. She announced that her ministry had purchased 100 farmers kits, which Amiran had already installed in 100 youth polytechnics across the country. This is to be followed by 660 more, as part of the new Agribusiness curriculum for the schools.
“About 92 per cent of Kenya’s youth have no skills and need to join youth polytechnics while 80 per cent of Kenya’s population is below 35 years,” noted Dr. Mwinzi. She added that the polytechnics now have a new agri-business curriculum, which emphasizes on agriculture and entrepreneurship.
On his part, Martin Keino, the Director of the Youth Entreprise Development Fund, announced the Fund’s partnership with Amiran. The Fund is under the Ministry of Youth Affairs. It has set aside funds for 210 Amiran Farmer’s Kits for each constituency.
Mr. Oparanya, said that promotion of small-scale greenhouse farming was at the centre of the Agriculture Sector Development Strategy that seeks to popularize irrigation across the country. He disclosed that through the Department of Poverty Eradication Council the government will avail funds to the youth and women groups through constituency and district development offices.
“We want to develop agriculture as a business at the very basic farm level”, said the minister.
Charles Kilonzo has placed farmer’s kits in 22 primary and secondary schools in Yatta, with the help of CDF.
“We have already installed the farmer’s kits in 22 schools - 20 funded via CDF and two by the Kenya Red Cross. We will also construct boreholes to ensure that in every place where there is a borehole, farmers can then purchase the kits as water is accessible,” he said.
To support the initiative, the Ministry of Planning has donated KSH 4 million towards developing water projects in Yatta.
The coordinated effort to bring this modern agricultural technology to Kenya’s youth, by instilling the notion that “farming is cool”, has been spearheaded by Amiran. Studies show that the average age of the Kenyan farmers is around 64 years, while Amiran’s farmers are closer to 34. Therefore this initiative will see the realization of Amiran’s aspiration to promote a country of young farmers.
“The partnership with the government attests to its seriousness about developing agriculture especially among the youth, who are farmers of tomorrow”, said Gilad Millo, Amiran’s head of business development and public relations.
After winning the Millennium Development Goals Trust Fund award for its contribution to the attainment of goal number one_ reducing hunger and extreme poverty by 2015_ Amiran has stepped up smallholder greenhouse farming. From that initial investment, a farmer can make up to KSH 400,000 annually from the first planting, with harvests running continuously for up to a year. The smallholder greenhouses, created to enhance access to affordable modern agricultural methods, technologies and inputs, are already gaining popularity in parts of Eastern and North Eastern Kenya.
They have also contributed immensely to urban agriculture, with a number of dwellers putting sections of their plots under greenhouse. Abraham Mosoba, a researcher with Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) says that his plot in Kitengela that lay idle for two years after he purchased it is now earning an average of Ksh 40,000 per month since he put it under greenhouse farming.
By Horticultural News Team