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.

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Kenya: Retired civil servants should create space for youths

By The-star.co.ke (STACEY CHEPKEMOI)

The recruitment ban at entry level cadres in the civil service that was put in place by the Treasury has not only affected management succession but also created a backlog of unemployed youth who are graduating from colleges every year.

The suspension of recruitment has affected service delivery across government agencies. The Public Service Commission proposal to hire new civil servants and promote some in the next financial year is a step in the right direction. Treasury should lift the moratorium so that government and its agencies can create jobs and deliver services.

There are many civil servants who, for long, have stagnated in one job group for years. They could not be promoted because there is no budget. PSC is unable to retire some senior civil servants because of the skills they have and allowing them to leave without a replacement is a risk that should not be considered.

Therefore Parliament should proceed and allocate sufficient financial resources to this docket if indeed the MPs mean well to the millions of unemployed youth in Kenya.

However, if Parliament approves the PSC budget proposals, the same MPs should make sure that the recruitment process is transparent. It is not uncommon for nepotism to rare its ugly head in this type of situations.

We all know that the recruitment process in government is never transparent and largely depends on whom you know and not what you know. We want to see recruitment on merit and which adheres to PCS policies. This is the time to keep in mind affirmative action that ensures candidates from every corner of Kenya is gets a chance to serve his or her country.

The government should stop recycling employees in the public service, once somebody has reached retirement age, they should proceed on retirement so that the youth are given a chance to bring on board fresh ideas that can propel this country to greater heights.

Why should we have civil servants who after attaining the retirement age of 60 are appointed to plum government jobs only weeks later? If indeed the government is genuine in resolving youth unemployment, which we all agree, is a time bomb, why not give these positions to the youth?

In fact, all the Chief Administrative Secretaries positions that were created by the Jubilee government through PSC should have all be handed to the youth as part of mentorship so they can gain experience on how to run a government.

It is unfortunate they all went to politicians who have had their chance in public service.

The former Bomet county senatorial aspirant spoke to the Star

Kenya: Delegates at UN-Habitat’s second Youth Blue Economy Conference call for action on jobs

By Unhabitat.org

Over 250 youth met with representatives of the private sector, government and the UN to explore ways to boost young people’s employment in the Blue Economy at the second conference on youth and the Blue Economy.

The youth at the two day conference, entitled Pathways to the Blue Economy, agreed to set up a Pathways Taskforce for Youth and the Blue Economy to mobilize governments, local authorities, private sector and other stakeholders to support youth. The conference, which took place a few days before the official opening of the first UN-Habitat Assembly, was supported by UN-Habitat, the Canadian High Commission in Kenya and the Commonwealth Youth Programme.

“The taskforce’s overall goal will be to take forward the great work of youth and both youth Blue Economy conferences and ensure that youth in Kenya and globally are fully engaged in the Blue Economy,” stated Elly Savatia, who at 18 was the youngest delegate at the conference held at the UN Office in Nairobi (UNON) where UN-Habitat has its headquarters. “We need more than conferences – we need action!”

The Taskforce will create a Youth and Blue Economy Fund called “Youth Blue”– to support youth-led enterprises and startups. It will also develop Youth and the Blue Economy policy guidelines, through a consultative process, and drawing from previous conferences and ensure the private sector involved in the Blue Economy hires youth.

UN-Habitat Deputy Executive Director Victor Kisob addresses youth delegates of the Pathways to the Blue Economy conference in Nairobi

“My team together with Canadian High Commission, Youth Congress, Government of Kenya and indeed all of you will work together to establish this Taskforce and create a programme to address the areas highlighted,” said the UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif, “I am optimistic that the programme will provide opportunities within the Blue Economy to increase youth employment.”

Canada’s High Commissioner to Kenya, H.E. Lisa Stedelbauer, expressed her country’s full support to ensure youth involvement in the Blue Economy.

“We are so excited to be partnering with you on this event. The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference was such a great success; we need to keep the momentum going,” stated Ms. Stedelbauer, “Did you know that there are 350,000 jobs in the Blue Economy in Canada? How many can be created in Kenya? Through partnerships with the private sector we can help to create jobs for the youth in the Blue Economy.”

Conference delegates engaged with over 25 private sector groups World Urban Cafés.featuring private sector hosts who shared their “pathway” on how they established their business.

Representatives from the Government of Kenya expressed their strong support.

“The Government will continue to develop and build capacity for the youth in the Maritime Sector,” stated Raymond Ochieng, Kenya’s Secretary for Youth Affairs, “This entails educating and motivating the youth to study the maritime domain, that will ultimately increase the output value of the industry. To this effect, my Ministry plans to allocate significant support to youth programmes in the Blue Economy.”

Speakers at the forum moderated by Raphael Obonyo, UN-Habitat’s former Youth Advisory Board member, included Ms. Susan Njau, Director, Youth Affairs in Kenya, Manu Chandaria, business entrepreneur and philanthropist, and several representatives from youth-led organizations. The UN-Habitat’s first Conference on Youth and the Blue Economy was held last November at UNON ahead of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference.

Kenya: Sports – Ouma regains place in Stars’ Afcon squad

By Standardmedia.co.ke (Gilbert Wandera)

A few months into his stay at Gor Mahia in 2016, Eric Ouma was already being equated to the Brazillian great Marcelo.

And it is not difficult to see why. Just like the Real Madrid defender, Ouma has all the qualities of a complete full back that saw him burst into the national team while still a teenager.

Former Harambee Stars coach Stanley Okumbi describes him as the best player in the country when it comes to taking crosses and picking out his team-mates in the box.

“There is no one like him in that area and I don t fear being contradicted. There is simply no player in Kenya who can take those pin-point crosses as he does. He is my number one in that position,” said Okumbi.

Okumbi says the defender also shows great courage in moving forward and always gives a coach something extra in attack.

“He is very dangerous when moving forward and provides something extra offensively. Furthermore, he also defends perfectly and is a player who gives any coach his all.

“Perhaps should not have gone to Georgia after leaving Gor Mahia. It didn’t give him that competitive edge but playing in Sweden is helping him get back.

“He should be at his top form by the time the Africa Cup of Nations finals kick off and we will see the best of him. I am confident he can take on Kenya’s opponents well.”

Over the last few years, Kenya has struggled for consistency on the wings but with Ouma’s presence, fears of opponents getting a loop-hole here are dramatically reduced.

Despite his great form, Ouma did not win the league title with Gor Mahia in 2016 as the team finished in the runners-up position to Tusker.

Many believe he would have won more titles at home had he stayed for at least two more years in the KPL and at Gor Mahia specifically.

However, his decision to sign only a six-month contract with Gor Mahia was perhaps an indication of his desire not to stay at the club for a long period.

After leaving Gor Mahia in 2016, Ouma moved to Georgia where he joined Kolkheti Poti and made 19 appearances. But he looked unsettled in Georgia as he immediately moved to Albania in 2018 joining KS Kastrioti. He never played for the Albanian club and his lack of match fitness also kept him out of the Harambee Stars.

He only started playing after joining Vasalund in the Swedish third division. With age on his side, he is likely to attract a bigger club after the Africa Cup of Nations finals conclude in Egypt if he rises to the occasion.

Kenyan: Body of eight-year-old found dumped along Nairobi River

By Standardmedia.co.ke (Betty Njeru)

The body of an eight-year-old boy has been found dumped along the banks of Nairobi River today.

Youths who were conducting a clean-up of the river discovered the body, strangled and dumped near the river.

Officials say that this brings the total number of discovered bodies to 14 since the start of the exercise.

Just last month, two bodies of infants were retrieved at Korogocho section of Nairobi River by a group of youth.

The bodies believed to be twins, were found wrapped in a polythene bag.

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has since asked police to speed up investigations into the discovery of dead bodies found on the banks of Nairobi River.

Sonko launched the clean-up exercise last year, taking place monthly to unblock sewer lines, clear garbage and for beautification purposes.

Kenya: Ruto says the youth are experts of fourth industrial revolution

By kbc.co.ke (DPPS)

Deputy President William Ruto has said the future of Africa lies in the youth being put at the centre of its development plans.

He said gone were days when this energetic and innovative age class would be seen as future leaders.

Addressing the Shape Africa Summit at the United Nations Complex in Gigiri on Friday, Dr Ruto said the youth are the experts of the fourth industrial revolution.

“They must, therefore, be at the fore-front of shaping the Africa we want,” he said.

He told the Summit the revolution provided the first opportunity to re-order the world and extend the reach of justice, inclusion, growth and prosperity to all of humanity.

Dr Ruto explained that Africa’s youth had become a demographic dividend, turning into the frontiers of unprecedented growth and promise.

He challenged the continent to assemble the cohort of visionaries who will light the spark that will produce an explosion of innovation and transformation to hasten Africa’s race to 2063.

To ensure that the youth drive Kenya’s development blueprint, the Vision 2030, the Deputy President said the government had unveiled a new, competency-based curriculum that aims to address the mismatch between courses taught in class and the market skills.

“The curriculum, in addition to investments in technical and vocational training, will enable young people to re-skill and up-skill as the nature of work evolves,” he noted.

Dr Ruto said the government’s deliberate investment in technical training would turn them into the centre of excellence for growing the requisite human capital that is agile and responsive to systemic shifts in the industry.

“This is also due to the appreciation to the fact that young people will make up 50 per cent of the workforce by 2020 and 75 per cent by 2025 globally,” he observed.

United Nation’s Environment Acting Executive Director Joyce Msuya said young people are the symbol of innovation, and as such, should be at the core of the development narrative.

“We cannot attain the global sustainable goals without the energy of the youth,” she said.

Ms Msuya called on Africa to offer a platform to young people so that they can be part of the solution to the problems facing the continent.

United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative Siddharth Chatterjee asked leaders to endeavour creating a level playing field for the youth to thrive.

“We cannot make these youths flourish, and become more innovative if inequalities still exist in the society. Let us direct our energies towards making the environment conducive for businesses youth pursue grow,” he said.

Born out of the World Economic Forum, Shape Africa is an annual forum that discusses solutions to some of the continent’s pressing issues.