What type of career do you aspire to have? Do you want to be an artist, a business person, or a policymaker?
Or, have you ever wanted to become a farmer? I would not be surprised if you said no.
When weighing career choices, many young people in the developing world tend to shy away from agriculture. I, too, once found myself disenchanted by the small villages and rice fields I grew up seeing every day. As the conventional belief goes, agriculture means an archaic lifestyle and a future with limited opportunities for youth.
But I later learned I was wrong. Plenty of evidence shows us that agriculture provides youth a viable way to harvest success and grow a sustainable future. In other words, I believe youth can, and should, choose agriculture. Here are five reasons:
1. Agriculture matters to the future of development.
Agriculture is up to four times more effective than other sectors in reducing poverty. Increasingly, the world is counting on agriculture to produce more nutritious food for — and improve the livelihoods of — a booming population, especially the poor. What could be more meaningful than being part of a proven solution to such a critical challenge?
2. Agriculture can be a gold mine for young entrepreneurs.
Meet Randa Filfili, a young entrepreneur from Senegal. She is also the first Senegalese producer who saw value in the fruit of cashew trees that others had considered waste, and turned it into “niche” jam products for export. Through agribusiness, Randa has not only carved out a successful career of her own, but also helped local farmers reach global markets, and create jobs for other young people — especially women. So, the next time you come across Randa’s all-natural cashew apple butter in your local produce store, think about how you can also start up a business in agriculture to help both yourself and the rural poor.
In Uganda, a young team with the World Bank and UNICEF used a mobile and web-based app called “U-Report” to swiftly help 190,000 farmers save their bananas — a staple food for Ugandans — from a vicious disease. Countries like Kenya and Rwanda are also eager to boost productivity through information and communication technologies and other creative solutions. Agriculture in the developing world has become a field vibrant with effective innovations, thanks to a growing number of young techie minds that make it happen.
If you are a “young nerd” into development research, agriculture may be the right place for you. Numerous stories from East Africa and other places have shown that research revolutionizes agriculture and transforms livelihoods. Today, more than before, climate change and a growing demand for nutritious food are for fresh ideas and renewed knowledge to explore ICT in agriculture, foster climate-smart agriculture and innovate in the sector to power future growth.
5. The trend of youth choosing agriculture is growing.
Attitudes toward agriculture are already changing. In Cameroon, where agriculture is becoming more competitive, young educated Cameroonians “have decided to become farmers, acquire land, grow maize professionally for trade, and manage their enterprises in order to earn a living,” according to Félix Nkapemin, an agricultural expert working with local farmers. Other countries like Armenia, Brazil, Malawi, and Senegal are investing in youth and agriculture with the support from the World Bank Group and other development organizations. Young people are also increasingly speaking up for themselves on why they choose agriculture.
The trend is growing. Support for the agriculture sector is increasing. The list of reasons is endless. This International Youth Day, I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences on why you think youth should engage in agriculture, and how it can help reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity.
Best Blog with Business Potential winner Mwenda David, with the blog “Foundation for young Farmers” Receiving an Award Plague and a Certificate at Kenya School of Monetary Studies.
The winners of the Youth in Agriculture blog competition (Yobloco Awards) were announced on the 17th of July, 2014 during the cocktail dinner organized at the Fin4Ag International Conference in Nairobi, Kenya where Foundation for young Farmers came out as the Best Blog with Business Potential in the competition. Results were announced by Philppe Couve, Jury member, assisted by Ken Lohento, in charge of the ARDYIS project. The results were announced in presence of participants of the conference, during a cocktail, and in the presence of various personalities including the Director of CTA, Michael Hailu.
The Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition (YoBloCo Awards) was organised in the framework of the CTA ARDYIS project, in collaboration with FARA, CAFAN, AYF, ANAFE, SPC/PAFPNETYam-Pukri, and e-Agriculture. It aims to put into limelight successes and issues faced by youth engaged in agriculture, in urban and rural areas; and to encourage the production of information and the use of new information and communication technologies by young farmers groups and organisations interested in the youth in agriculture question. For more information, visit www.yobloco.info.40 ACP countries joined the 2nd edition of the YoBloCo awards and 194 Blogs were submittedout of which 121 blogs in the individual category and 24 blogs in the institutional category were selected to go through the public evaluation process (http://www.yobloco.info/). 30 qualifying blogs which received the highest number of public votes in the individual and highest number of comments in the institutional category were selected and evaluated by the jury. The jury made its decision and Foundation for young Farmers emerged as the Best Blog with Business Potential out of the 30 finalists.
BANGKOK (ILO News) – Suk Moo Lee is a sensation in his native Korea: He has combined farming and camping to invent ‘farmping’ on his blueberry farm. In 2013, his innovation brought in US$200,000 in profit.
Suk Moo swapped his polished shoes for work boots in 2010, moving from Korea’s capital, Seoul, to rural Eumseong-gun to start his own business.
“As a little boy, I dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur. After examining the opportunities in various industries, I discovered that the agricultural sector had enormous potential for prosperity.”
His move proved wise, particularly at the height of the global employment crisis, which hit young people hard. In developed countries with few jobs available, many young people are qualified for trades that are unavailable or do not exist; and in developing countries, the absence of social protection forces many to venture into poor quality jobs where minimum labour standards are not met.
Governments are turning to further education and skills training to help reverse the youth employment crisis. Could agriculture also be part of the answer?
From a demographic point of view, it makes sense. The world population is expected to increase by a third and reach 9.3 billion in 2050, meaning more people will need more food.
We need to expand from cultivation and harvest to diversification of agriculture-based businesses.”
As more and better farms are created, related industries in agri-business, agro-tourism, land management, mechanical and agricultural engineering will expand as well. Agricultural exports will help create jobs across the entire value chain, benefiting corporations, family farms, cooperatives and small and medium enterprises venturing into additional markets.
Suk Moo believes that global trends of urbanization create agricultural opportunities in rural areas.
“We need to expand from cultivation and harvest to diversification of agriculture-based businesses. It is imperative to connect people in the rural and city areas,” he says, referring to his new product, “farmping”.
Yet, it seldom tops young people’s “most wanted” wish list of careers. It is perceived as representing the past and the antithesis of progress.
While there is a growing trend in industrialized economies, including those of Korea or Australia, towards offering agriculturally-focused education and incentives for young people to invest in rural areas, moving back to the countryside in developing nations remains associated with poverty, informality and archaism. Suk Moo admits it was not easy for him at first.
“Since I am a relatively young entrepreneur and lacked relevant working experience in blueberry farming, it was difficult for me to build a solid infrastructure and establish a network for my business …I was not born in an agricultural town and I had to learn and adopt farming techniques and technology from scratch.”
Improving tertiary agricultural education might be one way to improve the appeal of a sector some believe could boom in the coming decades.
There is plenty of room for improvement. In Mongolia, for example, where 32 per cent of employment is based in agriculture – according to ILO figures – only 2.35 per cent of students graduate with an agricultural degree. In Malaysia, this ratio is only 0.75 per cent. Vietnam may fare the best in the region but with only 7.99 per cent.
Suk Moo believes investing in agriculture could lead to huge returns for young people and for developing countries.
“The agricultural sector has enormous potential for growth. It would be a great idea for the Government to adopt a more systematic approach to encourage and support new agri-entrepreneurs and farmers to succeed in running their own farms and agribusinesses.”
1. At the National level, a National Uwezo Fund Oversight Board shall provide overall management, design and oversight of the Fund. The Board is supported by a Secretariat.
2. The Uwezo Fund will be administered through the Constituency Development Fund framework in all 290 constituencies. The Constituencies Development Fund Committees will in turn constitute the Constituency Uwezo Fund Management Committees to oversee implementation of the Fund.
3. Representatives of Women, Youth and person with disability will be part of the Constituency Uwezo Fund Management committees.
4. The Fund will operate as a revolving Fund ensuring continuity and sustainability.
5. Borrowing groups will be expected to apply Table Banking principles.
6. The Fund will be organically linked to 30% public procurement spend preference closing the loop between access to opportunities for enterprise development and supply side capabilities.
Who can apply
Women and youth groups
Requirements for applying to the Uwezo Fund
1. The youth or women group should be registered with the Department of Social Services or the Registrar of Societies with a membership of 9 – 15 members. A Certified copy of Registration Certificate will be required.
2. The youth group membership must be between 18 and 35 years of age.
3. Preference will be granted to groups that have been in existence for at least six (6) months. Minutes of group meetings will be required.
4. The groups should be based and operating within the Constituency it seeks to make an application for consideration for a loan from the Uwezo Fund.
5. The group should operate a table banking (Chama) structure where members make monthly contributions according to the groups’ internal guidelines. Evidence of monthly contributions will be required.
6. The group should hold a bank account in the name of the group. Bank statements will be required.
7. They should be recommended by the Chief of the location.
8. Photocopies of IDs and PINs of all the members will be required.
9. List of members that include their ID card numbers and telephone numbers.
How to apply for the Uwezo Fund
1. Sign up for Capacity Building Programme once launched and ensure you get a certificate.
2. Ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria
3. Fill an application form. Download the Uwezo Fund Application Form here or get it at the Constituency Uwezo Fund Management Committee office.
4. Submit the application form together with relevant documents to the Uwezo Fund Management Committee within your constituency
5. Await notification of the Uwezo Fund Management committee
Uwezo Fund Capacity Building Programme
The National Uwezo Fund Oversight Board in collaboration with the Ministry of Devolution and Planning will roll out a Uwezo Fund Capacity Building Programme to prepare potential beneficiaries of Uwezo Fund. Interested Youth and Women groups will be trained for an initial period of three months before they can apply for the Uwezo Fund through the Uwezo Fund Capacity Building Programme. The Uwezo Fund Capacity Building Program will be available for one year.
The Uwezo Fund Capacity Building Program will focus on four key areas namely;
General Information on Uwezo Fund
Business Development Services and Mentoring
Access to 30 percent Public Procurement tender opportunities for Youth, Women and persons with disability.
Once the Fund has been fully rolled out, interested registered youth and women groups can visit the nearest Constituency Development Fund office to register for the Uwezo Fund capacity building program.
1. The amount given shall be based on assessment by the Constituency Uwezo Fund Management Committee but will not be more than Kshs. 500,000 per group.
2. The Uwezo Fund is a loan. Youth and Women groups who will access the Fund will have a grace period of six (6) months and it will be repayable in eight installments.
3. The amount loaned will not attract interest but a 3% administration fee will be charged.
4. Application for funds by Youth and Women living with Disabilities will be given special consideration.
Ms Susan Chesiyna at her tomato greenhouse at her Kiamunyi farm in Nakuru County. She says her decision to ditch teaching for agriculture is paying off. Photo/WYCLIFF KIPSANG
By WYCLIFF KIPSANG firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted Thursday, March 29 2012 at 00:00
After 17 years teaching in various primary schools in Baringo County, Susan Chesiyna, 42, left her job for greenhouse agriculture. Little did she know that the decision she made eight years ago would be a turning point in her life.
Having researched on greenhouse farming, she invested in her five-hectare farm at her Kiamunyi home in Nakuru County. The proceeds have been overwhelming.
When Money visited the farm recently, we found her tending her tomato plants.
She started the business using a Sh400,000 bank loan she took jointly with her husband. She used the money to buy a greenhouse kit, drilled a bore hole, bought tomato seeds, and a friend helped her to set up four greenhouses on her farm.
“This is when I discovered that I could do better in business than anything else. I went ahead and resigned from teaching. I’m happy the sacrifice I made is paying off,” she told Money.
Ms Chesiyna’s greenhouses measure 80 by 100 metres each. She made over Sh500,000 in the past two months alone from the sale of tomatoes.
The handsome income is set to triple as she plans to expand her venture by ploughing back the profits into the farm. Apart from tomatoes, the former teacher augments her income by growing onions, pepper, and other vegetables.
She employs 10 people, whom she pays between Sh5,000 and 10,000, depending on their skills.
It has not been smooth sailing, though. The farmer cites high initial capital for putting up a greenhouse as a major hurdle, but she advises upcoming investors to use locally available materials to cut costs.
“Water shortage, especially due to the dry spell, is also a major setback,” said Ms Chesiyna.
It is also prudent to carefully research the target market. So far she has established contracts with many supermarkets in Nakuru town as well as learning institutions to supply vegetables.
She supplies Woolmart, Gilanis, and Ukwala retail chains. Kabarak University and Kabarak High School also get their kitchen produce from her farm.
The family business has also diversified into animal husbandry. Ms Chesiyna keeps more than 500 exotic and indigenous chickens.
On average, each slaughtered chicken sells at between Sh800 to Sh1,000. She also runs a real estate firm, Nasha Company, which was funded by income from farming.
She too urges other people to venture into greenhouse agriculture noting that it fetches a lot of income from a small piece of land.
The Future of Agriculture Lies in the Hands of the Youth……..