More than 2000 youth in the country will benefit from a Sh.200 million donor agri-business incubation project to start up business ventures in the cereals, fisheries, dairy and poultry value chains.
Under the project being implemented by various donor organizations, Kilifi and Nakuru counties have been identified where the identified youth will undergo trainings on new business techniques and be linked to the market.
The project is being funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Ustadi Foundation and Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) to the tune of Sh.218 million (USD2.1 million) is expected to end in December 2020.
The Ustadi Board Chairperson, Ruth Oniango said the youth empowerment programme is aimed at supporting the young people to venture into agriculture.
“The program aims at training the youth in agribusiness, funding and monitoring them for two years. We believe Kenya can really lead the rest of the continent in terms of youth in agriculture if the programme is fully implemented,” she said.
Prof. Oniango who was speaking in Nairobi during a project review meeting noted the need to create opportunities, jobs and businesses for the youth through the agricultural value chain and the food systems.
The current age of a Kenyan farmer according to the ministry of agriculture is 60 years though many people stay away from the sector citing lack of sound succession plan.
The CTA Senior Programmes Coordinator, Ken Lohento said the programme will benefit 2,353 youth drawn from 163 groups; 49 groups from Kilifi and 114 groups from Nakuru.
Youth enrolled in the program are undergoing mentorship under the CTA Youth Economic Empowerment agribusiness (VijaBiz) programme.
Lohento explained that since late last year, they have trained over 300 youth on how to set up sustainable businesses along select value chains including production, commercialization, consumption, as well as processing.
The project will be in force up to the end of 2020, but in order to sustain it, Lohento said the organizations’ plan to start soliciting for more support from other local and international agencies with a view to extending it for another four years.
“So far some youth have seen opportunities in value addition and integrated services where at least 15 groups are set to receive grants from a minimum Sh.10,000 to a maximum of Sh.2 million to invest in the dairy, fisheries, and cereals value chains,” said Lohento .
Lohento explained that the grant scheme is set to support innovations and purchase of equipment in the value chains identified under the programme.
“We are particularly interested in digitalization so that the youth can improve entrepreneurial practices and better their products using digital platforms,” said Lohento.
The Ustadi Foundation CEO, George Mazuri said that apart from financial support, the youth will also benefit from technical support.
“If the businesses need more finance, the young people will be enabled to access loans from government financial agencies and partner banks such as Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC), Youth Fund, Equity Bank, among others,” Mazuri stated.
Agribusiness has been primed as a game changer in the push to tackle the high numbers of youth unemployment in the country.
By Wangari Ndirangu