Increasingly fewer young people in Kenya are aspiring to lives as farmers. Most of them are rushing to cities and town to look for white collar jobs. This is not a bad thing. If you complete your university education or any other form of education and get a job that makes you satisfied then that is okay. We grow from there and move forward with our future decisions and life investments.
Education is very important; however it does not necessarily lead to employment. Most of us always hope to get a job in government institutions after finishing our studies because of the good pay but this path has always been stacked with challenges of bribery making it near to impossible for most young people to get jobs fairly. The so called “connections” always affects the balance of getting a job in Kenya.
Every parent wants their child to go to school, score good marks, get admission to campus and find a good job. They all want their kids to live better than them.
The best alternative therefore is to empower our young people and to direct them to agribusiness which is profitable but this has proven difficult.
So we ask ourselves, why do youth in Kenya, after being told how agribusiness is profitable, still don’t like agriculture as a business or career?
Why are they so resistant in embracing agribusiness?
Below are some of the reasons that might probably shed some light and explain why. Feel free to join in and leave your comments at the end of the article.
- Mentality: When one talks about agriculture (Ukulima), in the minds of young people, they automatically think of someone in shagzz living in a house made of matope (soil) or mabati, who wakes up very early every morning to go dig coming back home at sunset. In their minds, farming will take them way from civilization; make them hassle a lot only to earn very little income. Ooh, plus they would have to get dirty every single day. Also in most smallholder farms in Kenya, Jembes and Pangas are normally used hence making farming very energy and labour intensive. Young people think this life will be like if they choose agribusiness. Parents used this mentality to even scare their kids if they didn’t want to go to school. “You are going to end up like a farmer. Living a very hard and tough life and getting infected with lice and no one is going to want to be near you”.
- Funding: Borrowing Institutions want quick returns on the loans meant for agricultural projects that they have to give out to youth in farming, but instead they lend out the money out to non-agriculture sectors that would bring in quicker and more lucrative returns. This often means many applications for these agricultural loans especially from young farmers are unfortunately rejected.
- Impatience: Youth complain that it takes much longer time to achieve success in the field of agriculture than it would normally take other career paths or ventures e.g politics, banking or oil. Since most youth want money fast, very few are willing to take to a field like agriculture.
- Past Experiences: Do you remember your punishment days in primary and secondary school? Cultivation of food in the school shamba has been used as a punishment for every offence committed at school by the children, which has made many young people hate Agriculture. For failing to get an exam pass mark, you would be made to slash a bush every evening for a week, uproot tree roots or dig half an acre of potatoes. That was tough.
- Priorities: In Kenya and Africa at large, parents are always encouraging their children to study to become accountants, doctors and other office jobs. From the onset, farming or a career in agriculture is frowned upon as a poor man’s business.
- Conditions: Youths who have taken up farming as a career often complain that agriculture is not attractive enough in terms of compensation and conditions of service compared to what other professions like law, medicine, or banking offer. Pensions, bonuses etc
- Corruption: The agriculture loans are often misused and siphoned by politicians who channel this money meant for genuine farmers into their private accounts to buy new cars, buy huge pieces of land, and buy votes and expenses for running for public offices. This frustrates the funding process and discourages youth. There is also the possibility that funding organizations or banks chosen by the government to administer agricultural loans often connive with politicians and put all sorts of impossible obstacles on the paths of these youths in order to frustrate them from getting the loans.
- Inspiration: There is a shortage of individuals who are successfully running agricultural businesses than in other professions. Youth should be connected to many individuals doing well in Agriculture to act as mentors, counselors and provide career guidance advice to youth considering a career in agriculture.