- Youth inclusion into agriculture is imperative not only to food security, but also to curb the increasing social spiral into crime.
- It would be a wasted opportunity if these lucrative markets do not yield tangible benefits like solving challenges such as youth unemployment and food insecurity.
Kenya has made commendable progress in accessing global markets for horticultural produce.
In the past six months, President Uhuru Kenyatta has taken charge in securing markets for Kenya’s fresh produce in China and, more recently, Mauritius, albeit with some conditions.
These are welcome developments, given that one of the biggest constraints to our agricultural economy is ensuring the large quantities of our agricultural output find suitable markets.
Agriculture is key to poverty reduction and economic growth not just in Kenya, but across Africa.
According to the United Nations, over three quarters of Africa’s population is under 35. Kenyan youth is over 20 per cent of the population — higher than the world (15.8 per cent) and Africa (19.2 per cent) averages.
Kenya has the highest youth unemployment rate in East Africa. Youth inclusion into agriculture is imperative not only to food security, but also to curb the increasing social spiral into crime that unproductive and disenfranchised youth are vulnerable to.
The global market access for Kenya’s agricultural produce must translate to practical solutions to youth unemployment and underemployment.
As one of the leading producers of horticultural produce, Kirinyaga County stands to benefit from the new opportunities resulting from Mauritius and China’s acceptance of Kenya’s avocado.
Naturally, the more established players and large, profitable private entities are well-positioned to take advantage of these opportunities.
But given the stringent production requirements for export markets, the youth, small-scale farmers, many of whom are women and persons with disabilities, are disadvantaged.
Kirinyaga conceptualised the Wezesha Programme as a people-driven response to the four critical challenges vulnerable groups face in accessing markets in our predominantly agriculture-based economy.