Published on Nasikiliza

To farm or not to farm? The response is unquestionably to farm, but is it enough?

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Esther Nyawira Gitaka

Farming is just not enough! Never has there been a major shift in the view and subsequent engagement in farming by the younger generation in Kenya and Africa as a whole than in the last five to seven years.

Paradigms and assumptions that farming was a retiree’s ‘go to’ and the need of huge land and a lot of money to venture into farming have been abolished. The size of the farm no longer matters, opportunities for young people are endless, and it is no longer just farming - it is agribusiness, it is about farming differently.

Unlike before when farming was purely done for subsistence and only sold fresh; now produce can find its way to any part of the continent and world in various forms. The current breed of farmers has to realize that 21st century farming is a dynamic, vast type of business, and take up the challenge. Customers are more aware, conscious and can question everything from the fertilizer use, worker treatment, packaging, and hygiene. The days when one couldn’t find information on produce origin and how eco-friendly the production process is are long gone. All these demands are but great opportunities for the young generation to practice high-level specialized commercial farming. The success of this boils down to the opportunities young people take up and how innovative they get.

Value addition is one of the greatest opportunities there is in agribusiness. Adding value to any produce increases its shelf life and price. In this age, one can learn how to make their produce more valuable with the click of a button; from cheese production, dried mushrooms, strawberry jam, beef jerky and the like. Exposed to this information, young people should integrate the knowledge they have and replicate these ideas to fit their situation and home countries needs and even come up with more innovative and new products.

There is no industry that is not dependent on technology. This is one of the biggest opportunities for youth. The use of technology to sell their produce can eliminate the need for middlemen to market their produce internationally, therefore fetching higher prices for their produce and enabling farmers to connect and collaborate globally with other farmers hence leveraging on their volumes to access export markets.

Through technology, young farmers can share their lessons, experiences and offer trainings on specific type of farming. Farm tours are an emerging kind of agricultural tourism where farm visits are welcome at a fee. This calls for high quality farm arrangement, design, and produce. It also presents a great opportunity for young farmers. Most of the youth having gone through formal education, so they should capitalize on this knowledge in the different farming methods they are involved in.

Accountants can create a simple system where farmers can track their income and expenditure, engineers can design simple tools to simplify farming while information technology specialists can design systems that track produce from the seed to the consumed product. Obviously, there is great potential for the youth in agribusiness, with specialization in a specific produce, leveraging of skills, ensuring high quality processes and produce, making good use of technology and value addition. The applied minds of young people are all we need to feed ourselves and future generations.

I have taken up the challenge in mushroom farming. Are you going to take up the challenge?


Esther Nyawira Gitaka

Microbiology and biotechnology graduate of University of Nairobi

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