There is growing evidence that when you invest the youth in farming, their capacity and motivation to produce food profitably and sustainably increases
By Zablon Oyugi
The hands-on approach as a way of impacting needful business knowledge and skills to the youth in rural areas where farming is the main source of livelihood is increasingly unlocking agribusiness potential for many.
In fact, according to a new study released by the FAO Investment Centre and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), there is growing evidence that when you invest in farmers, especially the youth in farming, their capacity and motivation to produce food profitably and sustainably increases.
This is particularly evident in Adams Murithi, 28, farmer from Nyandarua County in Kenya who started his agribusiness journey from scratch while still a diploma in agricultural engineering student in 2020 to now earning close to Ksh0.5m a year.
“During my studies at a local training institution, I got some chance to work as a supervisor at Mwanzi Farm, an agricultural production enterprise in Ndaragua where I was paid some pocket money which I also used to boost my tuition fee,” said Murithi.
It was during this period that he came across an advert of business training in agri-entrepreneurship by Kuza Biashara and developed an interest.
According to him, all was needed was a young person of 35 years and below involved and with passion in the agriculture value chain which he found fit based on his aspirations.
He applied and would later pass the interview to allow him to begin three months business and mentorship training program that tackled diverse basic areas such as change of mind set, identifying business opportunities, business planning, business scaling and bookkeeping among others.
“Coincidentally, this training begun Jan 2021 at the same time I was through with my diploma studies and ended in March the same year giving me time to start applying both I learnt at school and from training,” said Murithi.
Like other graduate trainees, the young farmer who is also into potato and vegetables production was given a tablet loaded with business training materials and a projector to aid him in training fellow farmers besides being liked with other organizations in the agricultural sector for further assistance and trainings.
His first business gap he identified was crop spraying services which was scarce and the providers were charging high fees.
He would buy a motorised sprayer of 20 litres capacity at Ksh18,000 on an installment plan from a familiar dealer to get him started.
Charging Ksh70 full capacity of the sprayer per acre where other service providers charged Ksh100 gave him an edge. “I could also recommend certain drugs for certain growers, collect their orders, approach agro-dealers and buy the drugs at wholesale price for their (farmers’) benefit,” said Murithi.
This approach helped him become close to many farmers in the area and within a short time he had formed nine groups with a total of 100 farmers whom he could linked to farm inputs, mechanization, and aggregation services at a commission.
“Before acquiring business knowledge,” he says, “I aggregated potatoes for buyers on a commission of Ksh10,000 per lorry but now I can get up to Ksh50,000 a lorry thanks to good bargaining power he has since learnt.”
Climate smart services
He also rakes Ksh20,000 per season from linking farmers to mechanization service providers who offer climate smart services such as the chisel plough rather than the disc one which causes much soil disturbance hence not recommended.
Soil testing is another area of income for Murithi. For instance, he works with Crop Nutrition Company based in Molo which has labs for soil testing services at Sh1,300 per sample while he earns Ksh150 on commission per sample he delivers.
His good progress and close relationship he have built over the time with farmers and agricultural stakeholders in Nyadarua County has earned him several other trainings by other agriculture regulatory bodies such as Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) and Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) among others thanks to connections made possible by Kuza.
New seed varieties
“I have been trained by KEPHIS on new seeds varieties while KALRO through its Sagana Aquaculture Centre has skilled me on raised pond fish rearing which I practice and is earning me some good income.”
According to Mary Kibe, head of agriculture in Ndaragua Sub-County, trainings offered to farmers in the area has been of benefit especially to the youth like Murithi who is now replicating the same to peers.
“To sustainably unlock their agribusiness potential, it is important for farmers to have knowledge of products that are high in demand across the year and build their capacity to meet that demand, while also being motivated enough to continue implementing the knowledge and skills they learned on their own,” said Mary.
Currently Murithi has a network of over 400 farmers brought together under Friends of Ndaragua Agrihub which he aspires to register as a startup in the near future as being among other plans such as building an agroshop and an aggregation centre to enable him to do and earn more.