For the longest time ever, farming has generally been regarded as being uncool and a preserve of the older members of our society. This myth has over the years led to a high rate of rural-urban migration by young and energetic individuals looking for work in the cities leaving vast acres of productive farmland unattended. Sadly, some of these individuals do not have adequate skills to match the tough job market and as such end up doing menial jobs like watchmen, farmhands yet at home they are millionaires given the acreage of land in their names. Such people usually return home with nothing to show for their many years in the city as the jobs that they manage to get mostly pay peanuts yet the standard of living tends to quite high. The old folk who are left behind in the villages are often unable to till the land as such it lays idle, such a waste.
However due to the various success stories of youth who have embraced agri-business carried by carried by the media, the myth that farming is not cool/for old people is starting to be debunked. The publication that I can say has had the most impact on the youth is ‘Seeds of Gold’ that runs on the Daily Nation newspaper. So popular was the weekly magazine with the youth that a Tv show in the same name was created from it, the Tv show usually airs on Wednesday at 10.00 pm.
A good example of a success story of a youth who has ventured into agribusiness is that of Peter Kanyi which run on 17th October 2014. His journey into farming begun in 2012 when he saw an advert in the newspapers inviting people to apply for loans from the Youth Enterprise Development Fund. He decided to try his luck and to his pleasant surprise, officers from the fund came to assess his land as well as his project proposal. After the visit the officers concluded that the project was not only viable but that he qualified for sh300,000 loan. The money was thereafter paid directly to the company that was to put up two greenhouses complete with an irrigation system. He planted Capcicums as his first crop which produced an average of 100 kg per week. The produce was then sold to hotels, supermarkets among others.
However, the going was not easy in the early days as he lost his crops due to diseases such as powdery mildew that swept through his greenhouse destroying the capsicums. His saving grace was the fact that he had diversified into other crops and sales from these crops helped tide him over that rough patch. According to him the biggest challenge he has faced so far in farming is finding a market and knowing what is selling and at what price. He countered this by constantly doing research and avoiding open air markets where farmers are at the mercy of traders. With the returns from the greenhouses, he was able to cover his overheads, service his loan at sh10,000 a month and keep a tidy balance for himself.
The ‘Seeds of Gold’ magazine is awash with stories just like Kanyi’s of youth who have ventured into agribusiness and have become successful. This has had a great impact in debunking the myth that farming is for old people and that there is no money in farming. Nowadays it has become a common feature to see youth groups coming together to start farming rather than while away time waiting for white collar jobs. A good example is the Boito African Inland Church Youth Group who were featured in the Nation on 11th October 2015. This youth group runs a greenhouse at Bomet town in which they plant passion fruits. The group started the project for sustenance and had sold over 30,000 passion fruit seedling at sh40 to farmers netting them a cool sh1.2 million. From the proceeds they were able to acquire another greenhouse in which they planted tomatoes.
If you are still of the notion that farming is not cool and cannot provide sustenance for the youth, kindly ensure to check out the ‘Seeds of Gold’ magazine in the Daily Nation and educate yourself before you miss out on an opportunity of a lifetime.