Youth urged to engage in agriculture value chain


The government is calling on the youth to take up agriculture as a vocation.

Agriculture CS Willy Bett said embracing agriculture by the youth will ensure continuity as a majority of farmers in the country are in their 60s.

He asked the youth to take advantage of the technological advances in agriculture which makes it “cool” for the youth unlike in the past when farming was done using the hand hoe.

Speaking when he presided over the signing of a tripartite agreement between Kenyan start up Wanda Organic Ltd and two Philippines based companies for the manufacture of  Plantmate Bio Organic fertilizer in Kenya, the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary said  inorganic fertilizer has been used for long but what ails productivity is poor soils.

“Limited access to quality fertilizers and organic matter for small holder farmers has greatly contributed to poor agricultural productivity resulting in food insecurity as well as low earnings for small holder farmers,” said Bett and added, “Poor agronomic practices has also led to increased erosion and reduced soil fertility in Kenya.”

He noted that the average age of a Kenyan farmer is 63 year “and with this ageing population maintaining productivity will be a challenge, we need more youth to engage in agriculture.”

The CS said the government is in the process of increasing innovation in the sector in order to attract more youth and make agriculture a business and not merely producing for food, “so as to get the youth into the agriculture value chain.”

Managing Director of Wanda Organic, Marion Atieno Moon, said Plantmate Bio organic fertilizer consists of 22 beneficial microorganisms that unlock the soil nutrients leading to improved production.

She added that Wanda Organic through support from USAID successfully tested plantmate organic fertilizer in Machakos and Makueni counties where farmers reported yield increase of up to 30 per cent, translating to a 45 percent increase in quantity of produce sold and a 53 percent increase in the value of sales.

“This has seen farmers improve their livelihoods and also boost foo security. Farmers have also reported a reduction of at least 20 percent on crop inputs due to the unique qualities of the fertilizer”, she added.

Atieno Moon said they have also carried additional trials in Nyeri,  Kirinyanga, Nakuru and Laikipia countries with equally impressive results and said that the partnership agreement will see them set up semi-  mechanized factories across the country  and partners with other entities to supply raw materials for the fertilizer, making plant mate bio organic fertilizer more affordable and accessible to local farmers.

Economic Growth Office Chief from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mark Carrato said that in the coming years, entrepreneurship will be critical for Kenya given that Kenya’s workforce is projected to grow by 3.4 million people by 2020 and yet, already more than 1.5 million people are unemployed in Kenya, a third between the ages of 15 and 24.

“Entrepreneurs can help fill this gap. Worldwide, small and medium enterprises generate 86 percent of new jobs in the informal sector,” he said.

Carrato added that USAID supported Wanda Organic to a tune of Ksh7.7 million worth of programs that has trained more than 2,000 smallholder farmers in the use of Plantmate Organic Fertilizer that blends fertilizer contains micro-organisms which unlock soil nutrients, improving soil fertility and crop production.

He said that Wanda Organic is Kenya’s Innovation Engine that will bridge the gap and catalyze private investment by reducing investors’ risk in backing innovations to address food security, malnutrition, and poverty across Kenya.