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.

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

Fiji Authorities Urge Youths to Take Up Farming

By xinhuanet.com

Aging farmers in Fiji’s rural communities involved in the agriculture sector continues to be a worrying trend for the Fijian government which wants more youth involvement in this sector.

Agriculture Minister Mahendra Reddy said Thursday the Ministry of Agricultures’ Farm 2016 Household survey revealed that 22 percent of farmers in Fiji are between the ages of 19 and 30 while 35 percent of the farmers are over 50 years of age. Reddy said it was vital for Fijians to understand that farming should be treated like a business and the government would continue to encourage farming through support programs.

“We want young people, youths to see agriculture as a business rather than see agriculture as something that is relegated in the periphery. The Ministry of Agriculture will continue to provide the required leverage to farmers via various farm support programs to provide services to existing farmers and to attract young farmers as well.”

Reddy said the ministry plans to attract more young farmers through different initiatives. Agriculture is the mainstay of Fiji’s economy, and contributes around 28 percent to total employment in the formal sector. This sector which was once a major stronghold of Fiji’s economy and is the third largest now, contributing 451 million Fijian dollars (211 million U.S. dollars) or 9 percent annually to the nation’s GDP. Sugarcane which used to dominate the sector now only contributes 0.9 percent and has been surpassed by other crops, horticulture, and livestock production and subsistence sector according to Investment Fiji.

AfDB and ILO Launch Decent Rural Employment Promotion Scheme for Young Farmers in Central Africa

(Business in Cameroon) – The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the International Labor Office (ILO) are organizing from February 12 to 14, in Brazzaville, Congo, a workshop themed “unlocking the potential of rural economies through investment in the skills development and employability of youth in the agricultural sector in Central Africa”.

The meeting, AfDB says, aims to deepen talks on ongoing initiatives at the global, sub-regional (Cameroon, DR Congo, Chad, Gabon, etc.) and national levels in order to define strategic axes for the promotion of decent work for youth in the rural economy. Further, it is also an opportunity for social partners and sectoral ministry officials to better understand such strategies and better know how to deploy them.

The findings will enable the 150 participants expected to have tools to facilitate the identification of activities that generate productive employment in agriculture and the rural economy and thus ensure better support for companies and young people working in the sector.

AfDB indicates that agriculture is a mainstay for the development ambitions for productive sectors in Central African countries by 2030.


Source Business In Cameroon