To farm or not to farm: What opportunities exist for youth to prosper in agriculture and agribusiness?

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Linda Karimi Gitobu


It would be untruthful of me to say that I have ever considered myself the “farming type”, so to speak. Oddly enough, everything surrounding my upbringing and very name suggested otherwise.

At birth, I was named Karimi, meaning a hardworking farmer. In most African communities, a name shapes a child’s character or even path in life. I thought myself the exception to the rule. Most of my childhood was spent in Naivasha, one of Kenya’s horticultural havens in a wooden bungalow in the middle of a flower farm.

Quite honestly, I hold no more cherished memories than those. Furthermore, my parents, who were privileged enough to go to university, an uncommon thing in their time, have a farm that they religiously visit and tend to themselves, as their fathers did and their fathers before them. But like many youth, I see agriculture to not be enough. Not flashy enough. Not classy enough. Not up to standard. Whatever the changing social standard may be.

It is not ignorance as many people believe. The youth are aware of the statistics. They are aware that Egypt and Mesopotamia, a few of the world’s greatest ancient civilizations, were built on agriculture as are some of the Africa’s fastest growing economies: Rwanda, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ethiopia. Furthermore, they are aware of the profitability of the sector.

Unfortunately, they are not only unconcerned but also moving away from rural agricultural areas and into the urban areas. However, what the youth are concerned about is the modern version of ‘showing face’ or how the world perceives you.

Social media has taken the world by storm in no more than a decade. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Skype-and those are just the ones I know off the top of my head. Through these mediums, marketing, self-branding, long distance meetings, passing along information, and education have changed tremendously. It is nearly sinful to not be a part of the big web that is social media, connecting everyone everywhere.

So how do we use the social media craze to point more youth in the direction of agribusiness? If innovative agricultural ideas or opportunities were advertised using social media, it would not only fit in with the ever-changing world but could also become the new ‘thing’ to do. With the ideas dispersed it would only be a matter of time before new technological innovations came up to build on the agricultural sector.

Developing tech applications that provide farmers with information on crop production and protection, information on common diseases, and practices that flourish in certain season would enable rural areas to match up to the modern world attracting the innovative minds of the youth both on and off the farm.

Endless opportunities like the endless potential of the youth is simply waiting to be harnessed. Change is inevitable but progress is optional.

Authors

Linda Karimi Gitobu

Student of Strathmore University

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