How to engage youth in agriculture: Words of a young Farmer, Njeri
|Photo of Njeri|
I appreciate the classics, when it comes to music that is. When it comes to agriculture, I know that we need to do better, be better, be more innovative and more sustainable. I’ve not always had a passion for agriculture, like most Kenyan youth, I grew up dreaming of getting a desk job and moving to the big city even though I was brought up an hour’s drive from the capital. However, my tune has changed from that small clueless girl. There is countless more youth like myself, venturing into agriculture as a last result. In my case, I got an Agricultural Economics degree to the pride of my dad who worked as an Entomologist. I’m passionate about sustainable agriculture and innovation and zero hunger.
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Back to the classics, there are certain ways our forefathers used to practice agriculture, there was nothing wrong with it then but it is outdated now. We have more people to feed and less fertile land to farm on. This is where innovation comes in, hydroponics for example. The food we produce also often goes to waste because we lack the initiative for value addition When I was fresh out of campus and looking for work, there are two phrases I heard that infuriate me to date:
- “Little girl, we’ve been farming since before you were born, what do you want to tell us?” and,
- “let me see your work then we can talk about payment after you’ve proven yourself”.
It would take several pages to vent why these two statements infuriate me to date but most of you can decipher why I would be mad. These two irrational and biased questions have not deterred me from venturing into Agriculture and having a drive for this new love of mine. They have not stopped me from striving for better when it comes to my small herd of dairy goats, growing my traditional vegetables, keeping my kienyeji chicken or to the clients, I interact with.
The youth would bring in a fresh perspective on the methods of farming and look into a future where produce does not go to waste. I am tired of seeing food go to waste in the market while my countrymen are also dying of hunger and there’s lots of malnutrition. I look forward to it even. Wishful? Yes. Doable? Absolutely.