Elgon Kenya bags award for supporting youth in Agriculture
Outstanding 4-K clubs in Kenya will be recognized in the National Farmers Awards Scheme in a new category announced by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya while flagging off the first batch of seedlings targeting some10 schools in Nairob County on Wednesday.
CS Munya awarded the scheme patron Bimal Kantaria with a trophy in recgnition of his support for young farmers through the Youth in Agriculture Award. Dr Kantaria, the managing director of agricultural inputs supplier Elgon Kenya Limited and Chairman of the Agriculture Sector Network (ASNET) appreciated the recognition by the Government and termed both the revival of the 4-K Clubs and the introduction of the initiatives category in the awards as the biggest effort yet at nurturing young minds into the culture of farming.
Said Dr Kantaria, “The future of our country is our youth and the future of our country is agriculture”. Repurposing the Youth in Agriculture category by incorporating the 4-K clubs in the National Farmers Awards Scheme is therefore a big step in building the desire of our young children to embrace our most important economic activity.
CS Munya implored the schools that have been selected to participate in the pioneer programme to fully embrace farming by growing vegetables not only in schools but also at their homes. “Where you do not have land, use buckets, containers, basins, troughs and sacks amog other innovative methods of urban farming”, he told an attentive gathering of pupils at the Kilimo House grounds where they received the seedlings donated by Israeli Embassy and raised by Plantech as part of the world’s best known agriculture technology country’s support for the 4-K Clubs revival. The schools received 5000 kales and a similar number of spinach seedlings to mark the reinroduction of 4-K Clubs in Kenyan Schools.
The inclusion of the 4-K Clubs trophy in the awards brings the categories to 10, overall, four of which are special groups. The latter include Youth in Agriculture, Floriculture ( large, medium, small) Women in Agriculture, Farmers with Disabilities and the new 4-K Clubs. Others are Large scale Full Commercial Farms, Small scale full Commercial Farms, Farms Gearing towards Commercialization, Large Agrovet, and Small Agrovets .
According to Dr Kantaria, the expansion is indicative of the importance the National Farmers Awards, now in its 7th year in the country’s agriculture sector. Over the years, winners across the categories have gained a model farm status, a number earmarked as centres of excellence for training in agribusiness. Some winners have bagged international contracts to supply farm produce to overseas consumers increasing their incomes as desired by the awards thinking. More than 35 counties are participating in the scheme.
The Youth in Agriculture winners will be earmarked as model practical centres for mentoring the winners of the 4-K Clubs in an effort to transform them into future agriculturalists.
The world over, the agriculture sector is facing a huge challenge with the younger generations shunning the soil leading to food shortages. Policy makers are sratching their heads to find ways of interesting this population segment to embrace farming and the 4-Clubs model is a sure bet, said Israeli Ambassador to Kenya Oded Joseph.
He added that students who excell in agriculture have an opportunity to be trained in Israel under a bilateral agreement between the two countries to expose young agricultural professionals to world-class farming innovations so they bring back the skills to improve Kenya’s agricultulture.
The Ministry of Education has fully embraced the concept as part of the school programme that is now under the Commpetent Based Curriculum, CBC, that is putting more emphasis on skills and talents to graduate learners into the various opportunities to tap into according to their gifts and capabilities. Agriculture offers many opportunities and the 4-K Clubs revival is instrumental in teaching young minds the basics of farming, which they will use to develop expertise and grow agribusinesses.
The produce from the school farms will be used to improve food security and nutrition as well as earn the clubs some income for expanding their activities, CS Munya said.
Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Anne Nyaga said Youth in Agriculture has been institutionalized by the Ministry, in partnership with the department of Youth Affairs. A 4-K manual is being developed to guide implementation of the programme, earmarked as a key government activity in agriculture transformation.