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Learning Farm

Develop agribusiness acumen among youth and encourage them to take up entrepreneurial opportunities in the sector.

Photo of Eric Kariuki
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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Janet is 24 years old and a single mother. She was born and raised in Thunguri village where she attended majority of her pre-college schooling. On completing high school, she got a scholarship to attend a prestigious university in Nairobi. During her third year, Jane fell pregnant but she finished with honors while raising her son. When requested to go back home by her parents to help with the farm she refused, citing she needed to make a better life for herself and son in the city. After two years tarmacking looking for full time employment, Jane has been unlucky and has fallen into the trap many young people find themselves: Unemployed, disillusioned and resentful. To help Jane find a stable income for herself while developing her entrepreneurial skills, we encouraged her to sign up for the Learning Farm Programme. The programme connected her with a farmer in Kiambu. She was provided for a small piece of land to farm and a small stipend. As part of the programme, she would farm the plot of land for one year and a percentage of profit generated from sales of the produce would be paid to the farmer. In addition, she was enrolled in a quarterly 3 week workshop in which she was trained on better farming methods and entrepreneurship. In order to ensure the programme was sustainable, Jane paid a small participation fee. As a result Jane is financially stable and has gained some much needed business skills to continue running a farm.

WHO BENEFITS?

The primary beneficiaries are young men and women from both urban and rural settings. The programme is aimed at bridging the talent gap in the agricultural sector by getting more youth into the sector. The value differentiator of the programme is that youth are not only developed with farming skills but also develop their business acumen.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU

We are the founding team of Impact Hub Nairobi, submitting this idea in partnership with the youth development organisation AIESEC. Our core business is supporting social entrepreneurs, which includes inspiring youth to improve their communities by solving social problems through commercial means.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

  • Kenya

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for less than one year

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BECAUSE OF BENEFICIARY FEEDBACK?

The idea has not changed as such but key insights were gained. First it was clear that we would need to incorporate sensitization activities into the program through channels which our target beneficiaries would typically access information from. Opportunities within the agricultural sector are numerous however the youth just do not know about them. There was also the realization that we would need to have an inclusive (available to all) built in criteria and system that would be able to support even those youth that are unable to pay for the training program but are interested in participating nonetheless. Another insight was that we would need to go beyond the learning farms and figure out how we can offer continuous support to the youth especially to start of once they are done at the learning farm. The length of the program is also another factor that we will need to look into as most beneficiaries felt that short term training programs were more feasible.

HOW IS YOUR IDEA UNIQUE?

Similar initiatives that do exist are run as demonstration farms and are mostly used as marketing opportunities to showcase a company's product or tool. We are more interested in teaching farming knowledge and allowing the students to be able to practically experience what they have learnt in theory. In addition to this most demonstration farms are focused on one main aspect of farming for example horticulture or dairy farming. We are interested in putting together learning farms that are not only able to showcase a large variety of farming activities be it planting or animal husbandry, but are also able to cover the varying aspects of the whole value chain including new farming technologies and techniques. Our unique advantage is that we are youth who have done farming projects before in various capacities and have some lessons and experiences to draw from. Aside from this we have a deep and dynamic network that we can partner with in various ways to implement Learning Farms Training program.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HAS NOT BEEN SOLVED?

The existence of demonstration farms within the country is not a new idea, however you still find that the youth have not taken to farming because of lack of information and/or access to information. They do not understand the opportunities that exist within the agricultural sector. Other barriers to getting into farming such as access to land, financing and lack of continuous support services also reduce the attractiveness of farming. Hence an integral & core aspect of the Learning Farm would be to impart knowledge on various aspects of the agricultural value chain showcasing the numerous ways in which one can be gainfully involved in agriculture plus support and access to opportunity.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS IDEA?

The length of the Learning Farms program is still something to be thought about. The other aspect still unanswered would be with regards to how to provide continuous support to the students once they are done with the training at the Learning Farm, so that their knowledge and skills are put to good use. We would also like to figure out how we can potentially make the program more inclusive and accessible to all interested youth while still being financially sustainable.

IS THIS IDEA NEW FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

This idea is new to our organization. We are a team of co-founders currently working on bringing together the social sector eco-system to better support impact makers by opening an Impact Hub in Nairobi. Impact Hub (IH) is a global movement of collaborative spaces that brings together a community of like-minded people who are looking to create positive impact in society through their work. Impact Hub supports these impact makers by providing an inspiring space (from which they work), a vibrant community (that fosters peer to peer learning), and relevant content (that helps them build up capacity and skills). One of the sectors that we are focused on as an organization is that of youth employment and how we as an organization can actively participate in empowering youth within our country and region. Considering the existing underemployed and unemployed youth population and the focus on agriculture as a key sector in spurring the growth of the country's economy under the vision 2030, the Learning farms training program will provide a gateway to youth to gainfully take part in agriculture.

WHO WILL IMPLEMENT THIS IDEA?

It would be implemented as an Impact Hub Nairobi program in collaboration with AIESEC Kenya as a start. AIESEC Kenya is an international youth led organization focusing on leadership and they would recruit while Impact Hub Nairobi would be responsible for the planning and management of the program. We realize we would need to work jointly with other partners to make a success of the various aspects of Learning Farms and we would be in a position to engage them as the program gathers momentum.

According to the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, the agricultural sector is the mainstay of the Kenya’s economy. The sector directly contributes 24% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 27% of GDP indirectly through linkages with manufacturing, distribution and other service related sectors.

Approximately 45% of Government revenue is derived from agriculture and the sector contributes over 75% of industrial raw materials and more than 50% of the export earnings. The sector is the largest employer in the economy, accounting for 60 per cent of the total employment. Over 80% of the population, especially living in rural areas, derive their livelihoods mainly from agricultural related activities.

However, one key challenge the sector is facing is the non-engagement of African youths in agriculture coupled with an aging population. As Dr. Namanga Ngongi, President, Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa succinctly stated: “With nearly 60 percent of Africa’s population residing in rural areas and the large majority made up of youth, half of them being young women and girls, the poor participation of young people in farming and the agricultural economy must be seen as a matter of grave concern to all; indeed it directly threatens the future of agriculture and rural economic transformation on the continent.” (Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa Update, 2012 p. 2).

African farmers are ageing and the implications are negatively staggering; not only for food security but also for transfer of necessary knowledge, skills, expertise and techniques and for employment and economic development. According to average age of a farmer are 52 in Brazil, 57 in the USA and 60 in Africa (World Bank, 2008).

The case for Africa is worsened by the non-attractiveness of agriculture to the youths who should replace the old farmers. Akpan (2010), asserts that there is no conscious succession planning, thus the old farmers may literally work themselves into their graves. This trend is not limited to small-holder farmers. Many agricultural research institutions have a disproportionately large number of staff close to retirement age. This short-sightedness is presently impacting the agricultural sector, with increasingly fewer qualified mentors to pass on knowledge and skills to the new generation (Ashford, 2007).

What is the Problem?

Not many young people in rural and urban settings are interested or want to be involved in the agricultural sector leading to a talent gap.

Smart Solution

We intend to run a one year programme in which we connect both urban and rural youth with farmers and agribusiness consultants. The programme will run as an apprenticeship in which participating farmers will provide a piece of their farm for youth to plant specific crops and act as mentors on the actual execution. Secondly there will be agribusiness consultants will train these youth the business side, teaching them how to take their products to market.

The programme provides an attractive confluence between traditional farming and agribusiness thus providing youth an entrepreneurial outlet and room for financial sustenance. Keep in mind that the primarily purpose of this programme is to build capacity.

We will have quality assurance agents to regularly visit the farms to evaluate and monitor the programme. This will enable has to continuous improve the projects, anticipate needs and get feedback.

Long term value proposition

Land ownership is a contentious issue in Kenya. Therefore a long term approach that is strategically planned and executed is a better approach. Hence, the long term goal of the programme will focus on enabling successful participants of the programme to:

1. Access parcels of land either through a endowment programme and other financial services would be beneficial.

2. Rehabilitate semi arid land or swamps to farm lands which the participants of the programme can have a stake.

Target

The programme targets post high school, undergraduate and graduates in Kenya aged between 18 years and 28 years

SHARE ONE SENTENCE ABOUT THE IMPACT YOU WOULD LIKE THIS PROJECT TO HAVE FIVE YEARS FROM NOW, AND ONE QUESTION YOU NEED TO ANSWER TO GET THERE.

Impact - A network of 10 learning farms connecting urban and rural youths and developing a new generation of farmers and agropreneurs. Question - How many farmers are open to become crucial mentors for young people?

MY ORGANIZATION'S OPERATING BUDGET FOR 2015 WAS:

  • We didn't have an operating budget

MY INTENDED BENEFICIARIES ARE:

  • Within 100 km of where our team does most of its work

HOW LONG HAVE YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES BEEN WORKING ON THIS PILOT PROJECT TOGETHER?

  • Less than 6 months

WHY ARE YOU INTERESTED IN JOINING AMPLIFY'S PORTFOLIO OF INNOVATORS?

To connect with other innovators, to scale the reach of our impact through financial and knowledge support and to inspire a generation of young people through this amazing initiative.

8 comments

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Photo of William Lanier
Team

Hello Eric Kariuki and Learning Farm,
Do you think grain moisture testing to stop Postharvest loss like aflatoxin would be a skill youth could use to meet employers and learn the
Agricultural market place?
See <https://challenges.openideo.com/goto/challenge/youth-empowerment-challenge/jobs-for-youth-to-reverse-cereal-grain-postharvest-loss>

William

Jobs for Youth to Reverse Postharvest loss

Photo of Eric Kariuki
Team

Great suggestion. It does have some relevance in areas where grain production is most prominent.

Photo of William Lanier
Team

Hello  Eric Kariuki and Learning Farm,
Thank you for the reply. Should we exchange email and then user experience maps and
form a team to collaborate so the experts can see how our innovative team would help youth implement, learn and established business that reverse Postharvest loss like aflatoxin?

The moisture testing project believes aflatoxin indicates a very weak link in the East African grain value chain. 

William

Jobs for Youth to Reverse Postharvest loss

Photo of William Lanier
Team

Hello Eric Kariuki,
William (NeverIdle) hopes you are doing well and wish to invite you to the "1st All African Postharvest Congress and Exhibition (March 28 - 31) Nairobi" <http://africa-postharvestconference.uonbi.ac.ke/>. We hope to meet and discuss more about Moisture meters and testing to Reverse Grain Postharvest Loss."
Regards,
William

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