Can you manage a farm while working on a full-time employment?
Youth unemployment is incredibly high in Africa. In Kenya for example, more than a third of youth eligible for work have no jobs (according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Census 2020). Although Kenya’s many years of strong economic growth have created jobs, they are coming at a rate that is too low to absorb the rapidly growing population.
But this does not mean that youth are doomed. No. Youth must keep moving as they wait for jobs to come. Upon graduation from university, college, or high school, some youth look for occasional jobs to do as they wait for their next move, while many others chose to do nothing. Some do internships, others do teaching, others do small businesses like hawking, others get into farming … etc as they wait. For myself back then, I got a teaching job in a primary school which I did for several months until I got a scholarship to study abroad.
The period that youth wait before deciding their next career move can vary from days to many years, but in all cases it is indefinite. No one knows how long it will take them to secure their dream job, to get a scholarship, to get a Ph.D. fellowship, to get an internship … etc. Hence the need to use the waiting time strategically.
Life does not allow vacancy, therefore doing nothing is dangerous because you risk finding yourself doing things that you never intended to do.
Farming as you wait for your dream job
Having said that, my message today goes to youth who opt to practice farming while they wait for their next move. Whether you chose to set up a greenhouse, poultry farm, rabbits, swine, beehives, etc, you will agree with me that regardless of size, starting any farming project is capital intensive.
Therefore, the benefits of investing in farming can only be enjoyed in the long-term. Even if you do not envisage to be a farmer for long, you can develop a strategy that will help to sustain your hustle even after you quit farming to join your dream career.
This is how.
If there is a sector where family businesses have worked perfectly well for many decades, it is in agriculture. Most successful farms in the world today are family businesses.
As you start your small farming project, get your family involved. If your mum stays in the compound, make her your assistant. Teach her everything that you are doing or planning to do to make your business successful. If you have other family members nearby, your cousins, for instance, allocate them a different role where they can assist you either on a part-time or voluntary basis. And because you are doing it professionally, I believe they will be glad to assist.
Given that you never know the day or hour when your dream job will come calling, you must nurture your family to take care of your farm when you are absent. Otherwise, your farm will collapse the day you will leave.
I have heard of a story where crops dried and died in a greenhouse because a son traveled and he did not leave the mother with the keys, so the greenhouse was not watered. True story!
Do something as you wait. If you chose to farm, it will cost you a lot of money and efforts to start, and returns will be in the long-term. Working with family members can be a low-cost strategy to achieve sustainability for your farm.
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