Kenyan Youth Yearn for Business Knowledge and Skills

By Jacquiline Wahu

Kenya’s youth in business turned up in great numbers to kick off the month of April with all the motivation they need as they met great personalities in business in a forum organized by The Chambers of Commerce at Metta in Nairobi.

Vimal Shah, the Chairman of Bidco Africa, and well known for the growth of the company was the chief guest at the event while the panelists included Terryanne Chebet who is a Media Personality and a Business woman, Raymond Ochieng C.E.O National Youth Council among others.

Mr. Shah urged the youth to have a positive attitude as he termed them as the drivers of change. According to him, the current generation only needs to work on their attitude as they can learn all the entrepreneurial knowledge and skills they require from the internet.

“Universally change is the only constant, in fact from now going forward things will change much faster than it ever happened”, Mr Shah said as he implored the young entrepreneurs to be flexible and ready embrace change.

He added that the achievement of this nation depends on the youth which is the majority of the nation’s population. Also, the youth were encouraged to stop looking down on farming as it is no longer agriculture but agribusiness.

He termed unemployment of youth in Kenya to be worse than cancer and advised that entrepreneurship has a massive capacity to solve the problem.

 

Hacks to getting business funds

The government may not have job opportunities for the great numbers of youth joining the job market every year. However, it has put in place platforms through which the youth can acquire funds to start of their businesses.

As stated by Raymond, the youth must learn to approach the government in an organized manner. They must have all the documents required in place.

He told the youth to make use of the platforms that have been availed by the government specially to take up the Youth Enterprise Development Fund as well Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO).

In a rejoinder by Ms Kibet, Board Director at Youth Fund, the youth were assured that the government has enough money to loan out to those who are serious about business and ready to pay back as the money is meant for a revolving fund.

Benefits of Youth Fund

She clarified that not only does the fund avail money for start ups upon approval of their application but also offers training to a group of entrepreneurs from their locality. They only need to apply.

The fund also offers loans to existing business as well as useful network through various forums particularly KNCCI which is the pillar linkage for youth to global platforms.

Counties also Encouraging Youth to Embrace Entrepreneurship

A joint venture by Kiambu County Government and Italian Government dubbed, “Reducing the adverse drivers of migration through local value chain development”, targets to benefit 4,000 youth by equipping them with knowledge and skills on the best farming practices and value addition to create jobs.

The project aims at demystifying the notion that farming is for the old and uneducated but see it as a very productive venture with great profits.

The initiative which was negotiated by former Kiambu Women Representative Ann Nyokabi is expected to benefit from Sh 6 million funding by the Italian Government.

Together with Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations (FAO), Kiambu government is implementing the scheme which was launched last month by the Italian Ambassador to Kenya Mauro Massoni, Dr Gabriel Rugalema (FAO) and the county’s Governor Ferdinand Waititu.

“The project will be done in three phases and will give adequate skills in new agricultural ways, entrepreneurship and management skills. The objective is to ensure that there are increased returns in farming through innovations and value addition, which is the only way to lure youth into the venture which locally is perceived as the preserve for the old and uneducated by many youths.”, Mr Massoni said in his remarks.

Kisumu County is also encouraging traders to venture into activities like poultry, cotton, dairy and sorghum farming for Kenya Breweries Limited among others as said by Ms Moraa, the County Executive for Business, Energy and Industry, as she presented cheques worth Sh5.8 million to small scale businesses.

 

Look out for the continuation…

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Organic Farming Possibly the Solution to Food Insecurity in Kenya

By Jacquiline Wahu

Food Insecurity is a perennial problem in Kenya, yet the country prides itself in having agricultural sector as the mainstay of it’s economy according to a Food Security Report by Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), 2012.

One would ask then, what can be done to ensure that the agricultural sector produces enough quality food to sustain the nation’s population?

Organic farming, which is quite untapped agribusiness practice, is the most promising method to be adopted for sustainable food production, not only in Kenya but worldwide.

It is important to note that Kenya lacks organic seeds outlet thus organic farmers must import from US and Europe, Italy being the major source as learnt from an Agri-Tour to Kenya Institute of Organic Farming (KIOF) in Juja organised by Bizna Kenya and Siri Zetu Travel. This gap begs to be bridged.

Unlike the Conventional method of farming, Organic Farming is the chemical free production of food, that emphasizes on crop rotation, use of compost and green manure, as well as use of biological method of pest control.

Modern farming in Kenya, which entails planting a certain crop on a piece of land over a certain duration while using fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides has been emphasized on for quick cash. Unfortunately, these chemicals weaken the soil by dehydrating it as well as killing the micro-organisms within, resulting in unproductive land with minimal or no yields.

On the other hand, Organic farming nurtures the soil by maintaining moisture and adding nutrients thus making the soil more productive as the farmer keep on enjoying more harvest over a period of time and in the end, the production gets to an optimum and remains more or less constant.

When put in comparison, organic farming is a long-term investment unlike modern methods which run for short span of time before depleting the fertility of the soil.

In addition to food security, the quality of food from organic farms is of acceptable health standards as research has proven, thus ensuring consumers of healthy foods, staying safe from health hazards triggered by conventionally produced foods due to presence of too much chemicals in the food.

According to KIOF, Organic Farming follows four principles in its system of food production that include health, ecology, fairness and care.

To adhere to the mentioned principles, there are ‘BIG FIVE’ activities that a farmer must do in their organic farms. The first one is Composting which demands the use of organic matter to fertilize the soil like mulch, green manure, compost among others.

The second move is to deepen and protect the top soil.

The farmer must also bring biodiversity onboard through crop rotation, mixed farming and intercropping.

In addition, management of pests and diseases must be done ecologically by adopting cultural practices, physical measures, biological predators and using botanical & natural repellants.

Finally, an organic farmer is required to rear livestock that will help reduce waste from farm and in turn give manure to be use as compost for the planting season. However, the livestock must be kept in ways that encourage welfare and use of their natural behavior according to their nature.

This cycle goes on and on ensuring minimum or no waste in the system of Organic Farming and maximum production of quality food products.

For more information on Organic farming check out:

IFOAM: https://www.ifoam.bio/

KIOF: http://www.kiof.net/

The Organic Farmer: http://www.theorganicfarmer.org/

Or write to: ICIPE Email add: tofmagazine@biovisionafrica.org