By Zablon Oyugi
About 100,000 young women and men in Kenya’s western region are set to benefit from an initiative that aims to increase income and job prospects for 70,000 women and 30,000 men aged 18 to 35 in target areas.
The Resilient Agriculture that Works for Young People (RAY) project, which was launched by Practical Action, a UK registered development charity, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, will focus on accelerating the adoption of sustainable farming practices among the youth through mentorship over the next five years.
Young people in Kenya have been migrating from rural communities to urban areas in search of scarce employment opportunities, adversely impacting food production in rural regions. This is a threat to food security that this project hopes to combat.
Access to markets, jobs and strategic relationships
Susan Maina, Practical Action country director for Kenya, emphasised that this initiative aims to provide young people, constituting over 35 per cent of Kenya’s population and 60 per cent of its labour force, with access to markets and strategic relationships to establish successful farming enterprises. This effort will generate income and job prospects for 70,000 women and 30,000 men aged 18 to 35 in target areas.
Maina stated, “I am thrilled to oversee work that can serve as a blueprint for Kenya’s entire rural economy. For years, farming has been seen as a last-resort job, and the exodus of young people from rural to urban areas has strained our agricultural sector’s ability to meet demand.”
Reversing the trend of rural urban youth migration
The youth will collaborate with Practical Action to kick-start businesses and enhance their access to knowledge, training, and finance. “This project aims to reverse the trend of rural-urban youth migration, not just for the 100,000 individuals we’ll work with but for many more across the country,” Ms Maina said expressing optimism.
The project is carried out in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation under its Young Africa Works strategy, aiming to provide dignified and fulfilling employment opportunities for 30 million young Africans by 2030.
“We will be implementing the work in partnership with Mastercard, which is exciting. They share our vision for a future where young people can find profitable work in an attractive, resilient agricultural sector,” she said.
The project’s overarching goal is to equip young people with the skills necessary to operate sustainable agricultural businesses effectively. It will also involve youth-focused agribusiness initiatives in county governments’ development plans, creating a conducive environment and promoting women’s participation in farming.
Regenerative agriculture techniques
Moreover, the project will enhance access to education and training for young individuals, enabling them to adopt regenerative agriculture techniques and secure affordable financial products for agricultural business development. It will also facilitate access to land and farming tools by establishing relationships with suppliers and landowners.
Building on the success of Practical Action’s Transforming Rural Economy and Youth Livelihood (TREYL) programme in Homa Bay and Kisumu County, this new project will emphasise regenerative agriculture and a circular economic approach to encourage young people to embrace farming and develop rural businesses.