With Kiambu County being among the selected business incubation hubs for AgriBiz programme funded by the Kenya Climate Institute Center (KCIC) to empower jobless youth and women, beneficiaries are upbeat about the initiative.
AgriBiz programme is an economic empowerment programme under the KCIC which mainly targets unemployed youths and women who are living in both rural and peri-urban areas offers finances to targeted groups also get the know-how to create viable businesses.
The programme, funded in grants by the European Union, currently targets 2,400 youths and women to engage in agri-businesses through exploitation of natural resources within their reach to improve their livelihood.
KCIC Chief Executive Officer at Dr. Edward Mungai reiterated that they were trying to inculcate a culture whereby agri-preneurs supplied food products directly to consumers concept christened ‘farm to fork’ tailored to eliminate brokers and side –sellers were from that supply chain urging youths to be more proactive and exploit the rare opportunity.
As per the Kenya Youth Agri-business Strategy (KYAS) 2017-2022, it is estimated that up to 64% of the unemployed Kenyans were youths between 18 to 35 years with majority of them shifting away from agricultural sector to other non-agricultural sectors in urban areas.
According to the KYAS, the average age of farming population is 60 years, indicating that youths tended not to be attracted to farming due to the different perceptions. Some were of the opinion that the sector has low returns compared to other jobs or sectors.
The KCIC 2021 summary report indicates that youths were also constrained by limited access to land and other related factors of production including starting capital and security of land tenure as impediments to their progress.
Kiambu Economic Advisor to the Kiambu Governor Mr Allen Kimani told KNA that the county was fronting agri-business as a transformative catalyst for the youths in order to reduce the widened gaps of unemployment rates.
“Like 2 months ago, we have been moving around as a County Government surveying different farms and surprisingly, among those we managed to visit, some were founded by a number of youths too who are happy and content about their work,” he said.
“As the County government of Kiambu, we are urging youths who have innovative agricultural ideas to tap into this AgriBiz programme to gain relevant support and turn those ideas into actual opportunities,” Mr Kimani added.
With the wide range of support services offered by the programme apart from the finances, beneficiaries selected gain from one on one mentoring and they are given technical support in terms of branding, graphics and website design and social media marketing to enable them engage both offline and online with potential customers.
Other counties that are under the programme include Isiolo, Meru, Machakos, Bungoma, Uasin Gishu, Kisii and Kilifi counties.
By Jackline Kidaha