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The Facebook Farm to build young Kenyan farmers

With agriculture as one of the most dominant economic drivers in Kenya, Joseph Macharia set up "Mkulima Young" ("Young Farmer" in Swahili) to build and nurture a growing movement of young Kenyan farmers online. The Facebook page currently has 33,000 followers to discuss farming techniques, crop varieties, soil productivity and seasonal yields. It tells personal stories of success and grievances, providing photos and interviews - all taken by Macharia's team (who are also all young farmers). Mkulima Young created online market place to "trade" goods such as crops, livestock, fishlings, and seeds.

Photo of Jennifer Fong

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Check out Mkulima Young

Key learnings:

1. This example is proof that social media has been able to bring fragmented communities together and to engage young people in agriculture. 
2. Youth are the perfect teachers to train one another - they just need to platform to do so.

Questions this examples raises:
1. With the average Kenyan Facebook user at 19 years old, how can Facebook and other forms of social media be used to create dialogue and opportunities for enterpreneruship amongst youth? 
2. How else can the concept of an online trade platform be used? Perhaps an opportunity to spur business ideas, skills trading, equipment sharing, etc.
3. Some more food for thought - Would a similar project work best if it's owned by regional champions like Joseph Marcharia, or could there be a way to get the international community involved? Similar to " WeFarm" where rural farmers with no access to the internet send questions via text, volunteers translate this information in a centralized database, and farmers with internet around the world can respond to these quesitons.

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Photo of Joanna Spoth

While their primary purpose is not information sharing and there's not a large online component, myAgro (http://www.myagro.org/model/our-model/) has an impressive retention rate, on the ground training element, and method for building economic stability in West Africa through agriculture. I wonder how their success would change if they tried to integrate a more virtual element, especially for young people looking into their career paths. Gamifying agriculture or sharing myAgro stories from around the world could engage a whole new customer base.

Photo of Jennifer Fong

Thanks for your comment & ideas Joanna! I'm looking at myAgro right now and it's very interesting! Though what do you mean by "gamifying agriculture?"

Photo of Joanna Spoth

With an online information sharing mechanism for local farmers, there's a lot of potential to take it a step further and provide rankings, incentives, and collaborations. Not necessarily in a competitive spirit, but a way for farmers around the world, or even in a localized area, to keep in touch with each other and keep track of progress in an interactive way. Does that help clarify?!

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