Mentoring youth to embrace agribusiness in Kenya – How to start farming


Before you embrace agribusiness,  invest in knowledge, and appreciate the fact that you do not have to work on the farm to become a farmer.

Mentoring youth to embrace agribusiness in Kenya – How to start farming.  

August started on a very special note. Last Saturday, the 1st of August, I was invited by a friend who runs an organization that offers career guidance and mentorship to young people who are seeking wider paths to grow professionally. I met Kathleen Lihanda, the founder of My Career Identity in 2016, but since then, we have not met physically again. What inspired me most is that through social media, she has tracked my growth and my activities in agriculture, and that’s how she decided to invite me to mentor a group of enthusiastic youth who want to get into agribusiness. This made me realize that, with or without knowing, we inspire many people, even those that I do not see. This is a reminder to always put my best foot forward in doing whatever I do. 

I enjoyed sharing not because I had a lot to offer but because it was a unique opportunity for me to learn as well especially the public speaking experience. 

I had organized my message in three points around what every youth needs to know to start farming successfully. I have decided to share these highlights on this blog so that other interested youth who did not join the meeting can also receive the message.

So, what do you need to know before you decide to get into farming? Here is what I suggest:

 1. Agriculture is the most promising sector of the future for everyone to prospect

In 2009, Kenya had a population of 40 million citizens, and in 2019 it was 47 million. A whopping 25% increase in only one decade. By extrapolation, Kenya’s population will double in the next 40 years. This simply means that, by hook or crook, organic or GMO, our agriculture must level up for Kenya to be able to feed its citizens in the next four decades. This presents enormous opportunities for anyone who is looking for opportunities to start a new thing.

2. Before you start farming: Ask yourself what is your “WHY”

  • As participants, we asked ourselves the following question:
  • Why do I want to get into farming?
  • Is it something I have always been dreaming to do? Is it my plan A career?
  • Can I visualize myself farming in the next ten years? Or it is just an occasional fallback plan (B)?

It is very important to be self-aware and be honest with oneself. There are so many youths who have gotten into farming due to the forcing circumstances. For instance, many people are now rushing to invest in agribusiness after losing their jobs due to COVID -19 pandemic. But I know they will abandon farming immediately they get an opportunity to go back to employment.

Depending on what your “WHY” is, there are enough short term and long-term opportunities for everyone in agriculture. You just need to be clear about what your objectives are.

3. Before you start farming: Be ready to invest in KNOWLEDGE

There is no urgency when it comes to investing in agriculture, take your time, learn all the basic essentials. After all, you cannot plant today and harvest tomorrow. You will have to wait for several months if not yours to get your first harvest.

From my experience, the knowledge gap is very wide in the agriculture sector. Farmers do not know what is happening in the market place, suppliers do not know what is good for farmers ..etc. The few who invest to learn thoroughly across the value chains make the biggest profits. The more you know, the more likely you are to make bigger margins.

As a matter of fact, agriculture is underrated – farming is more complex than what people think. Agriculture is knowledge-driven. You cannot produce what you do not know how to produce. If you ask me, becoming a successful farmer demands more knowledge than becoming a banker.

Starting small is the best way to learn. Before you lease land, start with a kitchen garden. This will teach you the growth cycle of the crop and the basic management practices. Once you prove your concept, you can now upscale it.

 4. Before you start farming: Appreciate the fact that you do not have to work on the farm to be a farmer

Agribusiness is not all about being on the farm. Farming is a network of value chains and supply chains. I advise youth not to do farming if they do not have a long-term vision to remain on the farm. There are other areas of the value chain that you can intervene in as you wait for your plan "A" career to materialize. 

Also Watch: Apple farming in Kenya - Wambugu Apples

If you think being on the farm is not your thing, you are equally correct. There is still a lot that you can do to help others farm or to bring food closer to the consumer. This may include:

  • Supply of inputs,
  • Consulting services (farm business management, agronomy, farmers training)
  • Advocacy initiatives (Organic farming, youth in agribusiness campaigns)
  • Logistics services (Storage facilities, transportation services)
  • Distribution of food to retailers in local markets
  • You can also be a food retailer, like mama mboga.

I consider myself a farmer, but I do not farm. My work is to support those who work on the farm.

Remember, 

You will not succeed in farming simply because you are interested, but you will succeed because you are passionate and dedicated. Have you ever wondered why most successful farmers are the elderly? It is because all their commitment is in farming. That’s their final profession. However, for young people, they only take up farming for the “meantime” with divided commitment. That's why it rarely works for them!

 Related articles:

>>Profitable farming business - What you need to know before you start

>>To become a profitable small scale farmer, economies of scale is paramount

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