Farming: Youth in Kenya embraces new technology in seed potato production

By Potatopro.com

Despite being a trained accountant and currently pursuing a Bachelor in Commerce, James Gachiri had a desire to become a successful potato farmer.

This was not unusual as he comes from Nyandarua a county that is the leading producer of potatoes in Kenya. As an informed farmer, he set out looking for certified potato seeds which he knew would give him maximum returns. But he was soon disappointed as there was a shortage of certified seeds and almost gave up.

James Gachiri, a 29 years old farmer and Secretary-General of the Nyandarua Youth in Agri-business Forum:

“I looked for certified seeds in all government institutions like Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) and others but I didn’t get. For about five to six months the seeds were not available and that is when I realized there was a gap in the potato value chain that I could fill.”

“I realized that producing certified seed potato might give me more profit than the normal potato farming and I started seeking advice. There was this perception that it was an expensive venture and that is when I approached the National Potato Council of Kenya (NPCK) for advice.”

“These are potato seedlings that are produced through tissue culture then planted to generate tubers and I came across them at KALRO Tigoni Research Centre. I immediately decided to take up the new method of producing seed potato before everybody gets into it. They gave me 250 cuttings when they saw my interest in the new technology.”

“I am propagating Shangi a local variety and I have to be licensed by KEPHIS and KALRO made the connection. They also didn’t charge me for the soil tests they conducted before I planted and they also gave me a lot of advice.”

“Right now, I am waiting to harvest from the 22 bags and I am expecting about 200 bags. The demand is so high as all the seeds have been booked although I am still on the registration process with KEPHIS as a certified seed producer.”

“I want the youth in Nyandarua to be the drivers of agriculture and that is why we agreed to take this to the youth in the whole county.”

“We formed Nyandarua Youth in Agri-business Forum to share information about all the youths engaged in agri-business in Nyandarua in order to motivate others.”

“We are around 20 and last month we held training about greenhouse farming at Ol-jororok Farmers Training Centre. We want to create a pool of experts in all fields like dairy farming, poultry farming and the rest who can then train the interested youth in the county.”

“I urge the youth to get into groups so that they can get support from various quarters. We are currently engaging with the county government of Nyandarua and so far the departments of youth and that of agriculture have responded positively.”

Gachiri says NPCK supported him and through them, he came to learn of another modern method of propagating potatoes called apical root cutting.

He says that he got a lot of support by Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) who licenses seed producers after meeting the required conditions to ensure the material produced is disease free.

The youthful farmer says the first 250 cuttings gave him 2 bags of potato tubers each weighing 50 kilograms. He planted the tubers and harvested 22 bags.

He also convinced other youths from his Kariamu Village in Kipipiri to join him in the venture and they formed a group. The group with 12 members so far has also planted 2,150 apical cuttings. He says it was difficult to convince them to invest in the new technology but after they saw the interest my farm had generated, they agreed and from contributions, they leased a farm.

Gachiri urges the youth to get into farming pointing out that there are opportunities in mechanization and new technology to those who don’t want to soil their hands in the farm.

Nigeria: Farmagric Enriching Youths, Farmers in West Africa

By Dailypost.ng (Wale Odunsi)

Farmagric is a subscriber focused Agricultural company that empowers farmers by providing them with the required capital and inputs using funds raised from the investing public. Farmagric is making ground breaking moves in the Agri-tech world by building capacity of rural farmers, providing funds for smallholder farmers and also creating investment opportunities for the public.

Farmagric was founded in 2018. The company started out as EME Fertilizers and Chemicals (which has existed since 2016) – supplying fertilizers, chemicals and other crop/soil enhancing solutions to Governments and Commercial farms. In the course of providing this service, they observed that one of the prevalent issues in commercial farming is finance and the application of the right technology.

Africa and Nigeria is a farm lover’s dream; abundant uncultivated arable land which is roughly over half the global total, tropical climates that permit long growing seasons, a young labor force and an expanding population that provides a readily available market for produce consumption. We as a country are yet to harness these opportunities to ensure sustainable food security and food production.

The average age of farmers is about 60 years, in a continent where 60% of the population is under 24 years of age. Farmers are also less educated, with younger and more educated Africans leaving rural areas where farms are located and moving to cities. It is common knowledge that small holder farmers in Nigeria are inundated with a myriad of challenges, some of which include high costs of doing business, difficulties in accessing credit, and so on, access to finance still remains the biggest of these issues. Reason being – people see these farmers but feel they are not bankable, therefore, they remain wary of this business group due to the difficulty in assessing and managing the risks associated with credit.

At Farmagric, it was found that there exists a large number of farmers who have vast arable land but lack the financial strength to cultivate the lands and on the other hand, there exists a lot of Nigerians who are looking out for legitimate investment opportunities with good returns. Therefore, they decided to be a bridge between the two by making it easy and safe for investors to put in their funds into agriculture. These funds are then made available to train farmers and equip them with the right tools and inputs. The funds are raised to carry out the farming. After the farming cycle, the produce is then sold to off-takers and the profits are shared with their Investors.

With Farmagric, investors can earn as much as 30% return on investments per cycle which typically run for 6 – 10 months depending on crop/livestock type. Their model has a two-pronged effect as it avails farmers access to the much needed funding and offers investors good returns. It is understood by the Company that subscribers may be hesitant to invest because they may need their funds before the maturation of their investments, to address this, Farmagric forged a strategic alliance with FINT, a peer-to-peer loan market place, to offer their Subscribers access to loans up to 50% of the amount invested without collateral.

In order to educate farmers who may otherwise not have access to such, Farmagric organized a training for farmers from different locations in Abuja through the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) office. The training was focused on exposing them to modern ways of farming maize and soybean in order to attain maximum yield starting from land preparation, seed selection, seed dressing, herbicide and fertilizer application, pest control, harvesting and storage. After this training, some farmers who previously only farmed rice decided to try out soybean using the new method learned.

Farmagric is set to also launch its Foundation Programme for agriculture soon, this Foundation will be used for Trainings. Youths interested in agriculture are discouraged by the difficulties in accessing funds or land, reliance on manual technology in smallholder agriculture, all compounded by the low and volatile profits. Focused on encouraging youth participation in agriculture, Farmagric is set to launch their Youth Incubation Programme through the Farmagric Foundation in partnership with an international organization.

The Agricultural Skills Acquisition Programme (ASAP) aims to empower about 500 Nigerian youths aged 18 – 35 through theoretical and practical agricultural trainings in order to create income while generating employment opportunities and ventures.

Farmagric has a team of experienced Agronomists, Researchers, Consultants and Tech developers, who combine their efforts to see that the objectives of the company are achieved. They continuously conduct researches on different agricultural products and liaise with farmers to determine the right crops and seasons to farm. Farmagric is also interested in and are working on partnerships with people in the different sectors of the Agribusiness value chain in order to achieve the set out goal – to sustain agriculture profitably.

Farmagric has affected over 2000 farmers positively, with over 500 farm investors and over 7000 followers on social media. With continuous growth in the agricultural sector of the country, Farmagric is working hand in hand with investors and farmers to improve the food production capacity in the country and achieving sustainable growth in agriculture, which will in turn improve the Nigerian economy.

Cameroon: 15 Young farmers and entrepreneurs receive distinctions in Ngaoundere

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Cavayé Yeguié Djibril has launched the 6th Caravan to promote farming among Youths .

He launched the event this 2nd April 2019 accompanied by two Ministers ; Mbairobe Gabriel Agriculture and Dr Taiga of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry.

The event saw 15 best young farmers and entrepreneurs decorated with Knight of Merit for Agriculture and the Cameroon Knight of Merit by Hon. Cavayé Yeguié Djibril on the instructions of President Paul Biya.

The fifteen youths are made up of

# five young farmers

#five breeders

#five entrepreneurs.

The head of the Youth Parliamentary Network, Gaston Komba donated farm inputs and equipment to the young farmers drawn from the twenty-one divisions of the Adamawa region.

Also during the ceremony, Ministers Mbairobe Gabriel and Dr Taiga handed end-of-course certificates to some young farmers and entrepreneurs, who were trained by the Youth Parliamentary Network.

Addressing the Youth, the House Speaker stressed on government’s determination to encourage an on-the-spot transformation of lo cally produced goods.

He challenged other youths to be inspired by the success stories of the fifteen honored this day.

Administrative authorities expressed gratitude to Parliament for the innitiative to curb unemployment among youths in the region.

Hon. Cavayé Yeguié Djibril and the delegation round up their three Day working visit on Wednesday 3rd April 2019.

The Youth Parliamentary Network led the Caravan to the Adamawa to boost the regio n’s agro-pastoral potential.

Source Crtv

South Africa: Youth employability a key issue for agri sector

The agriculture sector – which employs just under 1 million people in South Africa according to StatsSA – is crying out for a solution to its youth employability challenge.

This was one of the key takeaways from the Youth Employment Service (YES) participation at the recent CGA Citrus Summit held in Port Elizabeth.

“Lack of viable and sustainable youth employability solutions was a clear issue for all stakeholders,” says Lara Grieve, YES business development manager.

Grieve added: “What was clear from the event was that the agriculture sector is looking for ways to bring a more collaborative approach to the unemployment challenge, bringing government and the commercial players in the agriculture sector together.”

Borne out of the CEO Initiative, YES has become one of the highest impact programs in SA, creating on average nearly 700 work opportunities each week in its first five months.

These opportunities provide unemployed black youth (18 – 35 years old), the chance to access the workforce, gain valuable skills and earn a basic wage. Furthermore, these YES youth are equipped with smartphone devices to learn valuable skills including work readiness, health and safety, financial wellness and more through the YES application. YES also enjoys a strategic partnership with LinkedIn. This means that YES youth can access one of the largest professional networks in the world, and build CVs and references that put them in front of potential future employers.

A further benefit of YES is that it offers attractive benefits to businesses looking to improve their Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) scorecard rating. Qualifying businesses can improve their B-BBEE rating by either 1 or 2 levels by employing and absorbing YES youth, in line with the Practice Note issued in October 2018.

“Agriculture is an important sector for the South African economy,” says YES chief executive Tashmia Ismail-Saville, who points out that there is an over-concentration of youth looking for work opportunities in Gauteng, but finding themselves competing with highly-skilled people for entry-level jobs.

Ismail-Saville says that South Africa would benefit from a decentralized workforce where jobs are created in developing parts of the economy. “By creating employment in the agriculture sector, salaries and skills are retained in these regions, contributing to economic development. If we create 1,000 entry-level jobs in a region such as Limpopo or Nelspruit, we add R42m to the local economy.”

Source Farmers Review Africa

GHANA: YOUTH MUST TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TOMATOES FARMING

The District Chief Executive (DCE) for Berekum West, Mr. Isaac Osei has urged the youth to take advantage of vegetable farming especially tomatoes, to better their lives instead of travelling to the cities for non-existing white color jobs.

Addressing a farmers’ durbar at Fetentaa organized by the Vegetable Growers Association in the district, he encouraged the farmers and the youth to step up their farming activities from subsistence to the business level in order to earn more from their sweat.

In a response to an appeal, the DCE assured them of the assembly’s readiness to help them establish a tomato market center to create ready market for them and also to aid the assembly in its revenue mobilisation.

To drive home his commitment to support the farmers, he announced that the grading of farm roads in the area is to start, to ensure easy access to their farms and again make it easier to transport their produce to avoid them being locked up on the farms to rot, a situation he described as unfair to the hardworking farmers.

Earlier, the chairman for the association, Mr. Kwame Bamfo Kesse said the durbar is a means to interact with farmers and stakeholders on how to address various challenges facing them.

He cited low financial support, unavailability of ready markets for their produce and the difficulty in acquiring land for farming as some of the major challenges facing vegetable, especially tomato farmers in the area.

Adehye Panin of Fetentaa, Nana Effah Amankwaa appealed to the government to establish a market center for their produce.

He noted that the traditional council of Fetentaa had release two-acres for the market and appealed to the Assembly to support them clear and develop the area.

Nana Effah Amankwaa noted that the construction of the market would go a long way to support the farmers to pay off their loans.

“With a ready market we can determine prices of our produce and this would make the business lucrative” he stated.


Source www.ghana.gov.gh


Kenya: With support, the youth have great future in farming

By JULIUS SIGEI

Annett Günther is the new German ambassador to Kenya. She is also accredited to the Seychelles and Somalia as well as the Permanent Representative to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) in Nairobi. She spoke to Julius Sigei

Germany is involved in many agricultural projects in Kenya. What are your priority areas?

A major part of our bilateral engagement is, of course, development co-operation. At present we are focusing on the areas of agriculture and technical and vocational training.

Our main goal is to contribute to tackling youth unemployment and to enhancing productivity in the agricultural sector, by supporting young agro-entrepreneurs.

We see agriculture as one of the areas with great potential for the economic development of Kenya. And our work is very much in line with the goals of the Big 4 Agenda, especially with regard to food security and manufacturing.

How do we make farming cool?

The farming population is ageing and the young people don’t want to go into farming. They need to know you don’t have to be behind the plough to make money from farming.

We want to focus on young agriculture entrepreneurs: Providing them with necessary skills as well as offering small support grants.

We recently met a young man in western Kenya who is doing well, selling sweet potato seedlings. With a little support he can diversify into other crops.

I also met another group of young farmers who are in a co-operative and milling different kinds of cereals. Farming has a huge potential to employ youth.

What does the government need to do to make agriculture more productive?

It may need to put in place policies to put on hold land subdivision beyond agricultural viability. And it also needs to engage the private sector.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big 4 agenda is a step in the right direction, but Kenya cannot do it alone. Money has to come from somewhere.

The government needs to ensure a conducive environment so as to attract foreign investment. Kenya offers an attractive combination of a growing economic infrastructure, favourable legal framework, a stable political environment and access to the continent’s largest economic area.

Kenya is indeed the economic centre in the East African region with a strategic location when it comes to access. This is why it also enjoys the status of a lower middle-income country.

The interest of German investors in Kenya has grown steadily in recent years.

Which other youth-related areas will you give priority?

Within our development co-operation, we would like to support the upgrade of three existing Training and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) centres in the greater Nairobi, both in terms of equipment as well as teaching and curricula development.

Several companies have already committed themselves to work within this project. The aim is to bring training and practice closer together to improve young people’s employability.

In Germany we have made very good experience with such a “dual system” where young people go to school even as they are attached to companies to gain experience and also earn something.

Source – Daily Nation