Young farmers in western Kenya are in a cycle of low-input, low-output commercial agriculture. With limited access to land, equipment and transport, the odds are stacked against their chances of success. And yet there is help in the form of Farm Africa’s Growing Futures project, which provides young people with the knowledge and skills to grow their businesses and incomes through farming. The project’s dual focus on developing horticultural expertise and building farmers’ links to profitable markets helps young people to capitalise on the growing demand for horticultural produce.
To date, Farm Africa has provided training in agriculture, business and marketing to help 2,300 young men and women living in western Kenya grow and sell more produce. Currently, 400 ambitious young Kenyan farmers are learning the foundation skills and techniques needed to build a sustainable horticultural business. The farmers are benefiting from new agricultural skills and practices including: crop rotation, irrigation, planting, harvest and pest management.
The young farmers have also undergone training in financial management and writing business plans, giving them the springboard they need to borrow the capital to grow and run their businesses.
Over the next two years, the young farmers will receive further training and support in finding the right buyers, business development skills, post-harvest handling and good warehouse practices. The project is also helping farmers to gain Global GAP certification, which they need to be able to export their vegetables. This is a crucial step in helping boost the farmers’ income as well as their purchasing power so they are able to afford to buy a wider range of foods for their families as well as pay for essential costs like schooling and clothing.
With some 80% of the workforce in Africa working in agriculture, farming is the continent’s biggest employer. Many young people are put off agriculture as a career as they’ve seen their parents struggle: yields and profits across rural Africa are a fraction of their potential. But Farm Africa says there’s huge potential to turn agriculture into a vibrant, profitable sector. Home to most of the world’s arable land and with impressive natural resources, Africa’s agriculture sector could create decent jobs for the growing population – if young farmers are given the support they need to access high-quality inputs like improved seeds and fertilisers, increase the quality and quantity of what they grow, and develop better links to markets – Farm Africa says.
“Farm Africa’s Growing Futures appeal will support thousands of young farmers in west Kenya,” says International Development Secretary Priti Patel. “The money raised will help farmers – half of whom are women – to develop their agriculture skills and improve access to markets, so they can grow more crops, increase their incomes and better support their families.
“Every donation made by the generous British public to the Growing Futures appeal will be matched pound for pound by the UK Government, meaning we double the difference Britons can make to these people’s lives.”
Donate today at https://www.farmafrica.org/donate/growing-futures.
Joseph Kaunda’s story
Joseph Kaunda, one of the farmers taking part in the project, has been able to use the income generated to invest in growing his business. “The Growing Futures project trained me on how to improve productivity and now I am able to grow different grades of vegetables for different buyers,” he says. “This has been very beneficial. Through the sale of cabbages, I was able to buy a water pump and am running my own vegetable production as a separate entrepreneur from the group.”
When Kaunda joined Growing Futures he was growing cabbages. Farm Africa assisted him and his wife, Micah, to improve their productivity through proper crop management.
Before he started working with Farm Africa he struggled to find buyers for his produce, leaving it to rot. When he did find a buyer, it sold for a low price. Kaunda’s produce regularly failed to meet market quality.
“When things rot, I get very discouraged. You spend a lot of money buying seedlings and tilling the farm, and you do the calculations on how much money you will make,” he adds. “When you do not do well, it takes a while to get the capital to start again.”
Since he started working with Farm Africa he has seen a 65% increase in yields and profit. His success has filled him with confidence and he wants to expand his business and be a trader.
“If I improve my farming I will buy a truck so I can get my products to the market and I can also take other farmers’ produce for sale.”