Challenges facing Youth in Agriculture

  1. Middlemen

Brokers aka middlemen remain to be the main bottle neck as far agriculture in Kenya is concerned. From those at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange or the transporters from the farm gates, inefficient value chains have been the biggest problems faced by farmers in Kenya especially the youth who own very little land or no land at all

2. Information

A good chunk of our young farmers in Kenya do not have access to material and timely information on  matters  agriculture. Be it market price information or information concerning inputs like seeds, agrichemicals; most of us have trouble getting the right information at the right to take sizeable action that may significantly impact yields, processes, problems etc

Most of the farming in Kenya is done in the rural areas where most of the households are off the national grid on electricity, communication lines and fiber optics making it very difficult to access the internet, which is today’s nexus point for information. This leaves them at the heart of the middlemen who extort the young farmers viciously.

3.  Climate Change

When I was a young boy, we used to go to the farm and come back to Nairobi with a lot of produce that at times we had to use two pick up trucks to transport the goods. 15 years later yields disappeared into the air. Today we can barely fill the boot of a minivan – back in the day, it used to rain more often than like today where it barely rains and when it does the rains are unpredictable and sometimes destroys plants since it’s very erratic.

Man has killed the ozone layer with greenhouse gases that are distorting the global climate patterns such that the ice in Iceland is melting!!!

This has had a major effect on farmers in Kenya contributing largely to the food insecurity we face today. Rain fed agriculture cannot work anymore, it has to be brain fed agriculture.

4.  Research

We just planted tomatoes in the greenhouse, seed variety Chonto F1, a hybrid variety developed in Germany. We lack research labs that can come up and patent seeds that bring good guaranteed returns to the farmer. Kenya Agriculture Research Institute is trying but they remain behind the curve because the seed market is filled with imported seeds which are more expensive than the locally developed.

We need agropreneurs to venture in research and development and continuously develop local solutions for the farmer.

5. The Government

The Government of Kenya is never serious about agriculture and this is very evident by the less than 3% they allocated for agriculture projects in the budget for financial year 2011/12. Apart from low budgetary support, farmers don’t get subsidies like in many countries like Malawi, who are now a net food exporter due to heavy government subsidies in the agriculture sector.

What do you think are tha challenges faced by farmers in Kenya? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below…

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