The Youth in Agribusiness is a yearly discussion initiated by Dennis Tirop and Ivy Kimutai which was launched at the Noble Hotel & Conference Centre on 4th November 2016 to discuss how Kenyan youth can best be engaged in agriculture to promote inclusive development.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), rural youth are the future of food security. Yet around the world, few young people see a future for themselves in agriculture. Youth often also lack access to credit, and many other productive resources necessary for agriculture.
During the launch, the forum mapped out the most important issues to engage youth in agriculture.
They identified five (5) bottlenecks that prevent the youth from engaging in successful agribusiness:
1) Lack of access to knowledge
2) Information and education
3) Lack of access to financial services
4) Lack of access to markets
5) Lack of engagement in the policy dialogue
To mitigate the issue of youth inclusivity in agribusiness, the following 5 topics were earmarked for discussion during the stakeholders and consultation breakfast:
a) Access to finance
c) Opportunities available for youth in
i) Livestock farming
ii) Poultry farming
d) Inclusion of the youth in Policy development
e) Value addition
The topics were handled by different industry players.
The panelists present were;
- Mercy Kimalell (Poultry Farming Panelist) – The proprietor behind the SotiKuku brand based in Eldoret. Sotikuku farm started in October 2013 with only 200 chicks with Mercy as the only employee. As of October 2016, the farm comprises 10 farm houses with a population of 3200 birds, complete with a slaughter house and a cold room which are catered by only three permanent employees.
The farm also has three other satellite farms with a combined population of 12,000 sotikukus.
- Charles Boit (Value Addition in Cereal Farming) – The proprietor behind Samsaraline Co. Limited and most recently Pure Products Kenya Limited. The MD of both Samsaraline CO. Ltd and Pure Products Kenya Limited, Charles does many things. From strategy formulation and implementation to troubleshooting problems, to financial management of the businesses, to raising funds, to driving a tractor or combine harvester, to learning more about his industry, to design and layout of manufacturing processes to HR and finally Innovation. Samsaraline Co. Limited produces Tea at SB Tea Estate in Nandi Hills, Maize Production at Kapsuswa/Ratinwet Farm Sugoi/Turbo/Segero/Ziwa, Milk Production at Kapsuswa Farm Sugoi, Milk Processing at Suswa Dairies Eldoret and Maize Milling at Wareng Maize Millers.
- Naftali Kiplagat (Dairy Farming) – An expert dairy farmer and lecturer at the Moi University school of Engineering, department of Industrial and textile engineering. He started his Dairy farm in 2011 with 6 low grade cows. He added another 5 heifers using his savings. Over the last 5 years, his herd has grown to a healthy 45, of which he milks 15. The farm has hit peak production of 180KGs of which he sells 150KGs with the remaining 30kg for the calves. At the start of this project, his monthly income was a humble 6000kshs and currently he comfortably grosses 100,000 plus.
- Joseph Boit (ICT in Farming) – is the founder of Graduate Farmer, a social enterprise aimed at empowering the Youth with Agricultural Information, Technical farming skills & practical crop and animal farming skills that will propel them from being job seekers to Creators within the agribusiness value chain. The business launched as a blog in January 2015 and has since morphed to providing practical training to farmers – particularly youth and women – through strategic partnerships with farms in Uasin Gishu county and like-minded organisations.
- Bryan Cuthbert Jnr. (Value Addition in the Dairy Sector) – Managing Director of Doinyo Lessos Creameries. Bryan deals with a wide variety of milk products ranging from milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream and ghee. Doinyo Lessos is one of Kenya’s oldest creamery having started out in making cheese in 1964. From small beginnings, they have built their reputation through a commitment to quality, experience and a taste for great cheese. Highland Cheddar is the most popular and well known of their complete cheese range.
- Technoserve Kenya (Youth and Farming) – A nonprofit organization operating in 29 countries, TechnoServe is a leader in harnessing the power of the private sector to help people lift themselves out of poverty. By linking people to information, capital and markets, we have helped millions to create lasting prosperity for their families and communities.
The forum organizers’ purpose was to have a relaxed information and experience sharing session where experts, policy makers and young agripreneurs would give their stories, opinions and advice on matters agribusiness. As discussions went on it became clear that everyone, their experience or scale notwithstanding, struggles with the same problems:
a) Difficulty in accessing credit for Start Up or scaling.
b) Inadequate information and knowledge base.
c) Market availability and accessibility.
d) Fast changing trends.
e) Unfriendly policy.
g) Inadequate linkages.
As a result of this, it was realized that a resource and incubation agribusiness centre which will provide linkages to different organizations and people with the “Know How” and solutions to these problems is urgently needed.
YIAB therefore hopes to get the ball rolling and set up a working incubation point come May 2017. Make sure to catch their next forum next year.