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Young African Farmers

A society where young, energetic youth of Africa below 45years are inspired to venture into farming and providing a sustained food supply

Photo of Caleb Ouma
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Mediaset Africa Communications

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Media Outlet

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

National Foundation of UNESCO Associations in Japan Prize, NHK - Japan Prize Camerapix kenya

Website of Legally Registered Entity

www.mediasetafrica.com

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • Under 1 year

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Nairobi

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Kenya

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Nairobi, located in East Africa with a total area of approximately 696 square kilometres.

What country is your selected Place located in?

Kenya

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

I have studied my adult education in Nairobi. I came to Nairobi in 2000, studied and got a job in media. I have lived in Nairobi since then. I got married in Nairobi.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Nairobi is bustling metropolitan city. It's full of people of every culture being the Capital of Kenya. It has people of the all ages but mostly dominant is the youth population. Nairobi is the epitome of a modern city. From high rise buildings and more being constructed to hosting the government buildings. It's the administrative city of Kenya too. Nairobi has all kinds of foods, from local traditional foods to fast foods which is most consumed. It boasts of a generally cool climate. Nairobi is the principal industrial centre of the country. Light-manufacturing industries produce beverages, cigarettes, and processed food. The city is located near eastern Africa’s agricultural heartland, and a number of primary products are routed through Nairobi before being exported via Mombasa. Nairobi also plays an important role in the community of eastern African states; it is the headquarters of important regional railways, harbours, and airways corporations. Nairobi is home to several educational institutions, including the University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University College , Kenya Polytechnic University College, and Kenya Institute of Administration, Other institutions include the Kenya National Archives, the National Museum of Kenya, the McMillan Memorial Library, and the Kenya National Theatre. Nairobi National Park, a large reserve for numerous mammals, reptiles, and birds, is a popular tourist attraction. Nairobi is served by all manner of transport from motorbikes famously known as boda boda, taxis, buses, and the major transport for residents is Matatu which consists of buses and vans ferrying people to and from Nairobi and neighbouring estates. The population has skyrocketed in the past few years and traffic jam is a nightmare. Planning your trip around Nairobi requires having an allowance of close to 2 hours from residential estates. The youth make the highest number of residents most of them seeking employment and hoping for a better future. Nairobi gets it's food supply from neighbouring counties. It doesn't have arable land and most lands within the city have been turned into residential estates and high rise buildings. The constant demand for food supply has made the food prices soar. Cheapest foods have become fast foods for most of Nairobi residents though there are also several eateries with local traditional foods, expensive though. With a high population and staggering economy, most companies have been retrenching of late and thus joblessness is on the rise. The many education institutions means hundreds of thousands not only in Nairobi but across the country and then moving to Nairobi to find jobs which are actually very scarce leading to a depressed population. Most is the centre of rural -urban migration. Many come to Nairobi to seek jobs and opportunities. The slums are busting starting from Kibera the biggest in Africa followed by almost 10 other semi formal settlements.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)

696

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

4397073

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

The average African Kenyan farmer is 60 years old according to a FAO report. In terms of sustainability, this means in the next few years, Africa will be suffering massive food failures. At 60 years, it means that amount of food being produced locally will continue to dwindle as at that age, it means that less and less food will be produced locally. It also means that Kenya and Africa in general will continue to import food from abroad, food that Africa has been producing for years. The current trend shows there is a major problem in food security. Soaring food prices is a testament to the state. Kenya's importation of food including the staple food [Maze] is a clear testament that our food systems are not working in terms of human resources among many other causes. Coupled with fast changing weather patterns and global warming/climate change it means that agriculture is going to be difficult and less and less food will be produced. There are different innovations currently being tested including drought resistant seeds, climate smart agriculture like green houses etc. Unfortunately again, those venturing into this are mostly around 55-70 years as a last resort after all other desired sectors have failed. If we don't induct the youth from a young age into the agriculture value chain, we shall be talking about a food crisis let alone a nutrition crisis. Interestingly, a lot of arable land is not in Nairobi but upcountry or the rural areas where the youth are leaving to come to Nairobi to find almost non-existent white collar jobs. According to FAO currently 46 per cent of the population live on less than 1 USD a day, 36.5 per cent are food insecure and 35 per cent of children under five are stunted (chronically malnourished) in Kenya. The biggest population of the country is the youth at 78% as per 2009 census. Agriculture is seen to be old fashioned and undesirable by the youth. The passion of the youth towards agriculture is more often inspired and moulded by role models. Most of the African farmers are between the ages of 55-70 years thus lacking farming enthusiasm and practice traditional subsistence cultivation, which gives low returns thus the unattractiveness to the youth. This means that we shall have less and less of the biggest number of population going into agriculture if we don't make agriculture appealing to them now. This means food production will continue decreasing caused by aged people doing farming [basically at 60 they are in their sunset years], an exploding population, and changing weather patterns. This means food insecurity is going to get worse. With a slow moving economy, the food prices will go higher and Kenya will import more food and what a mess we are headed for. The challenge is real and staring at us in the face, a high population which needs which is not enough to feed everyone. A hungry nation in the next few years is what we are looking at!

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

A large divide exists in the agricultural sector, despite the sector being the second largest foreign exchange earner in the Kenyan economy. The youth population has opted to abandon agriculture in pursuit of white collar job opportunities in urban centers and cities especially the capital Nairobi. The Kenyan unemployment rate stands at approximately 40%. An estimated 64% of the country’s unemployed are the youth. Many of the youth from upcountry and those already in Nairobi are fighting to get the almost non-existent white collar jobs. The Agriculture value chain can absorb up to 20% of unemployed youth according to the ministry of agriculture in Kenya while injecting much needed food into the market. Given the importance of agriculture in rural areas of Kenya where poverty is prevalent, the sector's importance in poverty alleviation cannot be overstated. Strengthening and improving the performance of the agricultural sector and enabling the engagement of the poorest and most vulnerable in this process is therefore a prerequisite and a necessary condition for achieving recovery and growth in Kenya after recent years of drought an slow development. We believe it all starts in the mindset. If we can convince the youth the agriculture is means to an end then we have hit 2 birds with one stone i.e. inducted more into agriculture thus creating jobs along the value chain but also have more food being produced. Our vision is short and precise, make agriculture appealing, to the youth. As a media house, we intend to find across all the provinces, youth who've ventured into agriculture and talk about their life change. Youth are more inclined to listen to their peers than any other age group. We are proposing a TV short features series. The series will follow youth who've made it in agriculture and are raking in thousands of dollars. We will follow them from the planting season to distribution and talk real figures, real challenges and most importantly revenues. We believe by doing this we shall start to have a change in mindset. Many youth will be able to see the opportunities in agriculture and consider going into agriculture. Through the program we will bring in experts who can talk about all aspects from what crops can be grown in a region, where to get seeds, financing, how to increase yields, talk about post harvest storage and loss saving mechanisms [we know post harvest loss accounts for a lot of losses in farming]. All this featuring the youth in the value chain. We shall also talk about technology, featuring youths who developed apps that add value to the chain eg linking farmers with markets and other necessary sectors of the value chain. We shall have the show aired by at least 2 national broadcasters and several community channels. The show shall be multi-platform i.e from TV, radio, internet and social media, mobile versions to ensure that we reach as many as we can. It all starts in the mind.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

By 2050, Agriculture should be the surest sustainable go to profession. The average farmer we hope to be about 30 years old. The most sustainable and rewarding job industry will be agriculture. Food production will be on an onward trajectory. Food imports will decrease as more go into farming thus increasing food production. Food prices will be manageable and headlines talking about increase in food prices will go low. With a youthful agricultural force, education institutions will have their courses training more in agriculture systems of the new age, addressing issues facing production like climate change, post harvest losses, marketing and agricultural financial management. In addition we will be talking about other added advantages, maybe less rural to urban migration as youth who will be converted will prefer to venture more into agriculture using their ancestral lands etc. Then we will also talk about less unemployment among the youth. As much as we know it's a not an easy job, but we need to start this mindset change yesterday, we are already late. 

One key issue in food production is the ever changing climate conditions. Seasons are not the same. With new research into environment conservation, climate change and need for new ways of farming, a youthful interest in agriculture will mean that more resources are poured into training for the times. There is a lot current headlines of failed rains thus coming hunger, this should be on its decline. Why, because with more entering agriculture value chain it will mean more resources are poured by governments to harness knowledge and make it useful.  

It all starts with a mind change, a perception change.



Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

The biggest asset to any system is the human resource. Without human resources it's practically impossible to sustain any system and food system is not an exception. Our vision addresses majorly the issue of work force. We have a lot of human resources as a country, but that doesn't address one of the biggest challenge we have as a country i.e food security. We need to drive our human resources towards our biggest challenges and create systems that work and reward at the same time. Food shortages rank at 71% in terms of Kenya's biggest challenges alongside the gap between rich/poor and infrastructure says PewRsearch. Again according to FAO in Kenya, every year 1 million youth enter the labour market facing huge challenges, especially in rural areas where unemployment rates are particularly high. Social perceptions, low productivity and profits make agriculture less attractive for youth who increasingly migrate out from rural areas to urban centers or across borders in search of better prospects. Yet, agriculture can represent a huge opportunity for the creation of employment in migration-prone areas. Urban markets are growing, from rural towns to larger cities, and strengthened rural-urban linkages hold many employment prospects both in rural and urban areas. Through the feature series, youth entrepreneurs will be not only be persuaded to consider agriculture [by making it look what it is in terms of economic], but will also be trained to engage in profitable productive activities and scale up businesses along identified agro-food value chains. Through identifying the opportunities along the value chain, the series will explore and expose the opportunities, bringing inexperts to discuss and show case those opportunities. In addition the feature series shall endeavour to provide linkages to resources within the value chain pointing out regional resources so that the whole country is covered. The issues of rural- urban migration will be sufficiently addressed with the hope that both off farm and on farm opportunities will described. There is a reason that although agriculture contributes over 80% of all employment opportunities in Kenya youths are not taking advantage of these opportunities due to their poor perception towards agriculture. With this, we hope through media activism, issues of policy will go into force. Such will enable systems to support the youth in agriculture value chain. By creating greater awareness, they can encourage political decision-makers to become more actively involved in agricultural and rural innovation processes. The reasons 78% of Kenya's youth are snubbing the major export earner for the country means they've not been informed thus ignorant of opportunities the sector offers. In terms of ICT, a study by FAO confirmed that youth are able to pick up more easily new technologies related to farming unlike elderly people who many a times do not trust new techniques. Rural youth can be an asset in their communities by helping elderly farmers to work with ICT. Access to technology i.e. internet and social networks by youth can re-engineer a new era of agriculture and ICT. Farming is rarely portrayed as a youthful venture. With the young deeply engrossed in social media, we will put agriculture in their faces online on social media. When finally we are able to portray Agriculture as an appealing venture to the youth and it encompasses all they wish for in terms of economics, income and they can use social media including twitter, facebook, instagram in showing how cool it is, then we will slowly have a food system that is supported or rather ran by the most dominant and energetic age demo-graph in Kenya. That makes it sustainable, and more easy to run through technological advances as the youth easily adopt technology. We will then bring in issues of healthy feeding habits due to plenty of food being produced. One key addition to this is technical capacity. In all areas, it's becoming obvious that technical skills has slowed down in general education provision in Nairobi and Kenya. Most youth are book smart, but technically challenged due to much theory. 

Key Targets

a. Youth. Includes persons in our definition aged 15 - 45 years of age. The location is mainly Nairobi and those in rural areas.

b. Education Institutions. Aim is to have more education institutions offering technical training in food production and marketing, research, and any education within the value chain with focus on Agribusiness.

c. Financial Institutions. Those capable of offering Agri-finance.

Partnering with education institutions known for Agriculture research like Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, there will be enough campaign on the technical skills required. One key point to add in this is that every youth growing up by 2050 will no longer feel that agriculture is for the old. It will be cool to have technical knowledge of both small scale and large scale farming where the youth know feel it's cool to operate a tractor, a combined harvester, reapers, harrows and threshing machines among others. This technical skills we intend to highlight and give the shows to technical institutions. We shall be discussing this issues with education institutions and especially offering technical education for the sole of purpose of showing opportunity. 

Our key objectives with Young African Farmers are as follows:-

1. Agriculture is cool. The Youth can Make a living out of Agriculture.

2. Technical Persuasion. Technical skills are dying in this highly mechanised world.  Can't teach old dogs new tricks. The youth are better placed to learn and adapt to new skills.

3. Digitization of Agriculture.  Think technology, apps in a global village. With more youthful teckies, the whole value chain shall be made easier by technology from appas linking farmers to markets, rain seasons with, forecasts etc

4. Climate smart. Changing weather patterns, global warming, locusts invasion and failing rains, new studies coming from research shall be imparted into the youthful generation to take the lead.

5. Food security. With an average youthful population in agriculture, it means more food production thus more food security.

6. Jobs Jobs Jobs. Office jobs are less. With a cool profession like agriculture thousands of jobs shall be created. First there shall be an entrepreneurial spirit. Second, the whole value chain shall create new jobs unforeseen or untapped due to the new ways of running the value chain.

NB. The whole series is about mindset. Changing the mindset by giving the youth a picture that Agriculture is a means to an end!

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Facebook

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hi Caleb... interesting what you are doing. please check The Digital Chain  and see how we can join forces. and check www.yielder.org as well. Alexander

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