Rural urban migration continues to increase in Kenya. At the same time,  a generation of young town dwellers in migrating to the rural areas to farm

The next generation of farmers in Kenya will be those born in towns.  

It is well known by everyone that most farmers in Kenya are subsistence small scale farmers who do not practice farming as a business. Therefore, it would be incorrect for me to discuss here the succession of small-scale farming businesses in Kenya because, in reality, the “business” does not exist.

Unlike in countries with developed agriculture where several family generations work on the same farm, the situation in Kenya’s farming families is completely different. I can say without fear of contradiction that most youth who live in rural areas today do so due to the lack of a better alternative. And the dream of any young man born in the village is to leave his birthplace and successfully live in another place far from home, preferably in town centers. It is very common to hear people asking questions such as: “You mean so and so is still living in the same village ever since?”. 

Farmer by choice or by constraint?

Remember that 80% of Kenya’s rural population are farmers. But most of them do not do farming because they choose it, no, it’s because they found themselves without any other alternative to earn a livelihood. This population is always on standby to seize any opportunity that may arise for them to work away from the farm. Most farmers hate farming, but they have to do it.

A conscious generation that will go into farming by choice, and ready to stay on the farm for decades will be the one that will transform the way families practice farming in Kenya. 

Therefore, from my standpoint, the continuity of farming populations will keep discontinuing as long as youth who grew up in the village continue to relocate in urban areas. Why is this detrimental to the progress of agriculture? Because a lot of skills and experience go to waste when people who have grown up on the farm, and the best suited to become farmers relocate to urban areas to start new career paths afresh. We would be far if people who grew up farming became farmers.

Rural-urban migration and vice-versa

However, things are starting to evolve. Even as those who grew up in the village seek opportunities in towns, the inverse is also happening. Those born in towns are looking for  opportunities to invest in rural areas.

In recent years, I have noticed that the majority of the upcoming young farmers are those who were born in towns and grew up doing different things away from agriculture. The best thing about this generation of young farmers is that they are only motivated to do farming as a business. I predict that this is the generation that might change the landscape of farming in Kenya from subsistence to agribusiness, and also create longevity of family farming business because they are getting into farming with a long-term business vision. 

This generation is acquiring land or selling it based on farming business objectives while ignoring the social/society value of land, which is great progress compared to the old generation of farmers whose perspective towards land is more of social than capitalistic. If this cohort gets it right, their children and the subsequent generations will be willing to remain on the farm and carry on the family business activities.

Therefore, I suppose you would agree with me if say that the next generation of sustainable farmers (agribusiness entrepreneurs) in Kenya will the born-in-town. Let me know what you think.

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