Empowering Youth in Agribusiness is Key to Reducing Unemployment and Increasing food security

By Treezer Michelle Atieno

The agricultural sector contributes approximately 33 % of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The sector also employs more than 40% of the total population and 70% of the rural population.

In recent years agricultural productivity has stagnated. Smallholder farmers and agricultural initiatives continue to face challenges in improving the quality of agricultural goods and accessing the market.

Despite these challenges, agribusiness has the potential to provide the highest level of informal employment in Kenya: reducing youth unemployment.

Youth unemployment remains a significant challenge in Kenya, perpetuating the country’s socioeconomic problems such as poverty and hunger. Unchecked, the International Labour Organization fears that youth unemployment, estimated at 35 percent of the population, will double by 2045.

Youths in Kisumu County, with the support from the county government and other stakeholders adopted self-employment through agribusiness.

“The County Government of Kisumu has initiatives to support the youth’s progress in agribusinesses. These initiatives will not only increase self-employment among the youth but also stabilize food supply systems in the county,” says The Chief Officer, Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries in Kisumu County, Mr. John Likoko.

In March this year, five youth groups in agribusiness received equipment worth KES 1.65 Million, courtesy of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), through the support of the Italian Government under the Innovative Food System project in Kisumu County.

The Equipment, comprising two tricycles Dayun and three Honda motorbikes, were handed over to Victoria Aquaculture Farm, Ohigla Poultry Group, Kibuye Waste Management Group, Dahlem Enterprise- dealing in vermiculture and compost manure- and Barachia Enterprise, dealing in milk value addition.

The five groups are the first beneficiaries of the KES 7 Million grant, where 15 groups have been identified to benefit after making successful grant applications.

While mapping out the groups, one of the challenges identified was  market access. The mentioned groups hired transport equipment whose cost impacted their production cost.

900 youth have been trained through the Ramogi Institute of Advanced Technology in collaboration with NITA, GIZ and TVETs, benefiting from the FAO food systems interventions currently. Implementation of the Kisumu County Youth in Agribusiness Strategy 2022-2027, launched in December 2022, is likely to see more youth receive support to grow in agribusiness.

This strategy will see 5,000 youths trained in agribusiness needs, 500 mentored to be entrepreneurs (SMEs) and 10,000 trained on basic agriculture production through county extension services and private sector engagement.

Food markets are booming globally and in Kenya. Recent trends in income growth, urbanization, and diet have created a sharp rise in demand for food. Even though Kenya produces nearly enough food for its population, imports have increased significantly. In the past decade, growth in demand has exceeded local and regional supply.

Kenyan youth have more opportunities to bring products consumers want and are affordable to markets. This can only happen if more youth are willing to join the agricultural sector.

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