A distinct feature of the African continent is that most of the population comprises of the youth. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) indicates that the African continent has the youngest population in the world (Africa’s defining challenge | UNDP in Africa). However, despite this rapidly growing population, unemployment remains a major challenge particularly for the youth in sub-Saharan Africa. To spur economic growth and provide a lasting solution to this challenge, the youth need to tap into self-employment opportunities available, especially in agricultural value-chains.
For 2SCALE, the youth are key change agents towards attaining sustainable agriculture in rural Kenya. At the heart of the program’s intervention strategy is youth inclusion. The program seeks to solve the issue of rural youth unemployment by filling the critical technical, life and business skills gaps faced by the youth, while at the same time using the acquired skill set to respond to the increasing needs of agribusinesses.
While the youth continue to face barriers such as access to land and credit, they can leverage on other existing opportunities along agricultural value chains.
Changing times: an active youth group with a vision
Early in 2021, Tegemeo Cereals Enterprise, in partnership with 2SCALE initiated the distribution and multiplication of bio-fortified pearl millet seed procured from the Kenya Agricultural Research and Livestock Organization (KARLO).
In Tharaka Nithi county, 30 youth are at the forefront in fast-tracking input distribution and the adoption of conservation agriculture to sorghum and pearl millet farmers. For most farmers in rural Kenya, ease of accessing quality inputs and correct information on how to use them remains a challenge. Tegemeo, a farmer-led grain aggregator, trader, and input supplier operating in the semi-arid counties in Eastern Kenya is leading in leveraging on the youth in Changing Times Youth Group to fill these existing gaps. This is achieved through incorporating them along the sorghum and pearl millet value chains to offer extension services, provide professional spray services as well as distribute bio-fortified pearl millet seeds and other farm inputs to farmers in the county.
“We formed the group with the aim of getting actively involved in agriculture. Some of us have studied agriculture studies in college and want to use the knowledge we posses to impact farmers in our villages. Currently, we are actively involved as farm input distributers whereby we get input on credit from Tegemeo and make monthly commissions based on the sales each of us makes,” says 22-year-old Innocentia Nthiga, the Chairlady of Changing Times Youth Group.