Team Foundation for Young Farmers “F4YFKenya”

Nairobi, Kenya

  • Business / Social Enterprise
  • Agricultural Production / Productivity
  • Africa

Our Team

Agribusiness is key to solving youth unemployment in Africa / Published September 17, 2014 by David Mwenda

Agribusiness is key to solving youth unemployment in Africa

Agriculture employs most of Africa‘s young people and is likely to continue to do so in the future. But to meet the aspirations of millions who want rewarding work, the continents agricultural sector will have to change. Today’s farming by machete and hand hoe does not appeal to young Africans or to policymakers. Farming is not even viewed as a “job” by many young Africans, who instead reserve the term for employment that requires clean clothes and a desk. Yet for a generation of young people entering adulthood, agriculture offers the best opportunity to move out of poverty and build satisfying lives.

Markets for food are booming globally and in Africa. Recent trends in income growth, urbanization and diet have created a sharp rise in demand for food. Although most food consumed in Africa south of the Sahara is produced there, imports also have increased significantly in the past decade because growth in demand outpaces local and regional supply.

African farmers have an opportunity to bring more products to markets that consumers want and increasingly can afford. Who will serve these markets? African or outside producers? The answer depends on decisions that African leaders make regarding policies and public investments that affect the competitiveness of local farmers.

Africa has abundant resources suited for agriculture – especially land, water and labour. Africa’s population is growing rapidly and will continue to do so until 2050, when the pace will slow. Young people seeking to establish farms different from those of their parents and grandparents have many options, but they also face daunting hurdles. They can farm a portion of their family land, but to do so while earning higher incomes will require skills and capital to move into high-value forms of production, such as horticulture or small livestock. They also may venture out and establish their own independent farms, often in their same community.

Young people the world over often enter farming by renting land at first. The poor development of rental markets in much of Africa, however, acts as a major barrier to such opportunities. In many parts of Africa, paradoxically, it is easier for large outside investors to obtain farmland than it is for local young people.

Those who can obtain land will need advice and mentoring to manage it well and access to grants or affordable loans to use as start-up capital. Programmes such as rural and community banks in Ghana to help qualified young people enter farming are much needed. Such banks are now the largest providers of formal financial services in rural areas in Ghana, reaching an estimated 680,000 borrowers (pdf), and with some additional outreach, they could be leveraged to benefit young people.

Many young people will not want to take the risk of establishing their own mid-sized farms, instead they opt for a combination of some part-time farming and supplying services to their neighbours, such as machinery service, transport, simple veterinary services, repair of equipment, etc. Others may choose from an even wider range of wage-based work, from unskilled day labour to highly skilled positions on large commercial farms or in food processing. All of these options represent real opportunities for Africa’s young people.

Policymakers soon must recognize the importance of agriculture for employment of the young, and redouble efforts to transform the sector. Despite 10 years of commitments by Africa’s leaders to invest in agriculture and a modest improvement in performance, particularly after 2008, change is coming too slowly. Per capita output is growing, but this is largely because more land and labour are used and commodity prices are high. Growth in productivity, both of land and labour, lags behind that in other regions of the world. Improved seed varieties are now used on about a third of planted area – better than a decade ago, but still far behind other regions . Moreover, many of these improved varieties are 10-year-old hybrids that do not perform as well as more recently developed seeds.

The scientific foundations of African agriculture need rapid and focused strengthening. Regulations and policies still impede rapid progress in a variety of areas, from difficulty transferring rights to use land, to slow approval of new seeds and plant protection agents, to barriers at borders for trade in products, inputs, and technologies.

African leaders must convert their rhetorical commitment to agriculture into actions that transform the lives of millions of rural young people. Their efforts will be repaid with an outpouring of energy and initiative sufficient to raise incomes, improve food security, deliver better nutrition, and boost the balance of payments. Africa’s youth dividend is in the countryside, and a vibrant agricultural sector is the mechanism through which to collect it.

Engaging youth in agriculture. Investing in our future. / Published September 16, 2014 by David Mwenda

Engaging youth in agriculture. Investing in our future.

With an expected population of 9 billion by 2050 and declining interest of youth worldwide to remain in rural areas and take up agriculture, who will feed this growing population? Youth make up about one fifth of the population of developing and emerging economies and face global unemployment levels from 10-28%[1]. The number of young people of working age is increasing while this same group continues to shy away from careers in agriculture.

Agriculture has an image problem. There is a decreasing interest among youth in entering agricultural related fields due to the persistent perception of agriculture as an outdated field with minimal financial returns. But it remains true that youth face large challenges accessing land and finance without collateral.

The average age of a farmer is 52 in Brazil, 57 in the USA and 60 in Africa. Many agricultural research institutions have a disproportionately large number of staff close to retirement age. This shortsightedness is impacting the sector now, with increasingly fewer qualified mentors to pass on knowledge and skills to the new generation, which will only get worse.

While the lack of youth in agriculture is well documented, plausible strategies for addressing the issue are not. Youth inclusivity, while recognized as important tends to become a ‘side issue’, with experts preferring to look at mainstreaming options instead of tackling the issue head on. But we must recognize it for what it is: a critical threat to future food security that must be addressed now. And in addressing it, we must ensure that youth, the key stakeholders in this process, are involved.

Policy: To create an enabling environment for youth to enter into the agricultural sector, a supportive policy environment focused on youth is required. Access to land and finance is a barrier for many, which is essential for farming and agricultural entrepreneurship. Youth specific policies as well as providing a space for youth to engage in policy discussions are required.

Youth inclusion in the development of policy on an organizational level is also important and can be facilitated through youth representation and/or advisors on boards, steering and/or executive committees.

Attracting Youth: Agriculture is not featured promintnely in the media and is rarely glamorous when it is. Working with the media to provide more interesting portrayals of agricultural careers is important, as is working with ICTs and social media to reach a broader audience.

Education: The skills and competencies of agricultural graduates do not meet the needs of today’s agricultural sector. Curriculum reform in tertiary level agricultural education is required to meet the demands of the labour sector, with particular attention to agribusiness and entrepreneurship, where many youth demonstrate an interest. Youth require a range of skills and competencies beyond their technical discipline, particularly those ‘soft’ skills such as communication, leadership and business skills. Reform of the agricultural curriculum must be a fully inclusive process which involves a wide range of stakeholders including youth.

With high unemployment rates globally and the lack of interest in traditional agricultural pursuits, a greater focus on entrepreneurship in agriculture is emerging. Entrepreneurship has the potential to contribute to the rejuvenation of the industry, creating more employment opportunities, increasing the potential for profit and moving away from the perception of agriculture as a low prestige career.

A responsible agriculture, meeting global food security needs without depleting its resources, can only become a reality if young professionals are actively engaged in shaping the sector’s future.

Our Mission

Our mission is to inform, educate and promote Young people in the agriculture industry.

Our Background

Promoting opportunities for youth in agriculture Foundation for Young Farmers “F4YFKenya” intends to attract the younger generation back into farming. We’re defining the issues that young farmers face in the industry and fight for the policy changes that are need. We bring young farmers together in person and online to learn, share and build a stronger young farmers community. AS YOUNG FARMERS, we are dedicating our lives to building a prosperous agricultural sector. We are counting on farming to support not only ourselves, but our communities and our nation. The world is counting on us to stimulate growth in rural communities, to produce a healthy food supply, and to protect water, air and soil. We envision a country where young people who are willing to work, get trained and mentored to support themselves and their families in farming. Foundation for Young Farmers (F4YFKenya) aims at creating sustainable programs to nurture and develop young agriculture entrepreneurs. Having recognized the potential role of youth in contributing to agricultural revolution, it became imperative to develop a long term comprehensive programs that would attract and inspire the youth to actively participate in agriculture as a career. We serve as a platform through which young people can realize their full potential towards agriculture. Our key objectives are: Providing a platform where young people can share farming experiences; Provision of training, advice and expertise on agricultural projects and schemes; Helping Young people draft viable Business plans and set up viable agricultural projects and community programs; Linking the youth to agriculture stake holders; financial institutions, Government agencies, input producers, NGOs and research firms and market; Soliciting grants/donations to support young people venture into farming; Sensitizing the youth on the need to engage in agriculture through group campaigns and social media. Find more @ http://youngfamersfoundation.wordpress.com/

Agribusiness is key to solving youth unemployment in Africa / Published September 17, 2014 by David Mwenda

Agribusiness is key to solving youth unemployment in Africa

Agriculture employs most of Africa‘s young people and is likely to continue to do so in the future. But to meet the aspirations of millions who want rewarding work, the continents agricultural sector will have to change. Today’s farming by machete and hand hoe does not appeal to young Africans or to policymakers. Farming is not even viewed as a “job” by many young Africans, who instead reserve the term for employment that requires clean clothes and a desk. Yet for a generation of young people entering adulthood, agriculture offers the best opportunity to move out of poverty and build satisfying lives.

Markets for food are booming globally and in Africa. Recent trends in income growth, urbanization and diet have created a sharp rise in demand for food. Although most food consumed in Africa south of the Sahara is produced there, imports also have increased significantly in the past decade because growth in demand outpaces local and regional supply.

African farmers have an opportunity to bring more products to markets that consumers want and increasingly can afford. Who will serve these markets? African or outside producers? The answer depends on decisions that African leaders make regarding policies and public investments that affect the competitiveness of local farmers.

Africa has abundant resources suited for agriculture – especially land, water and labour. Africa’s population is growing rapidly and will continue to do so until 2050, when the pace will slow. Young people seeking to establish farms different from those of their parents and grandparents have many options, but they also face daunting hurdles. They can farm a portion of their family land, but to do so while earning higher incomes will require skills and capital to move into high-value forms of production, such as horticulture or small livestock. They also may venture out and establish their own independent farms, often in their same community.

Young people the world over often enter farming by renting land at first. The poor development of rental markets in much of Africa, however, acts as a major barrier to such opportunities. In many parts of Africa, paradoxically, it is easier for large outside investors to obtain farmland than it is for local young people.

Those who can obtain land will need advice and mentoring to manage it well and access to grants or affordable loans to use as start-up capital. Programmes such as rural and community banks in Ghana to help qualified young people enter farming are much needed. Such banks are now the largest providers of formal financial services in rural areas in Ghana, reaching an estimated 680,000 borrowers (pdf), and with some additional outreach, they could be leveraged to benefit young people.

Many young people will not want to take the risk of establishing their own mid-sized farms, instead they opt for a combination of some part-time farming and supplying services to their neighbours, such as machinery service, transport, simple veterinary services, repair of equipment, etc. Others may choose from an even wider range of wage-based work, from unskilled day labour to highly skilled positions on large commercial farms or in food processing. All of these options represent real opportunities for Africa’s young people.

Policymakers soon must recognize the importance of agriculture for employment of the young, and redouble efforts to transform the sector. Despite 10 years of commitments by Africa’s leaders to invest in agriculture and a modest improvement in performance, particularly after 2008, change is coming too slowly. Per capita output is growing, but this is largely because more land and labour are used and commodity prices are high. Growth in productivity, both of land and labour, lags behind that in other regions of the world. Improved seed varieties are now used on about a third of planted area – better than a decade ago, but still far behind other regions . Moreover, many of these improved varieties are 10-year-old hybrids that do not perform as well as more recently developed seeds.

The scientific foundations of African agriculture need rapid and focused strengthening. Regulations and policies still impede rapid progress in a variety of areas, from difficulty transferring rights to use land, to slow approval of new seeds and plant protection agents, to barriers at borders for trade in products, inputs, and technologies.

African leaders must convert their rhetorical commitment to agriculture into actions that transform the lives of millions of rural young people. Their efforts will be repaid with an outpouring of energy and initiative sufficient to raise incomes, improve food security, deliver better nutrition, and boost the balance of payments. Africa’s youth dividend is in the countryside, and a vibrant agricultural sector is the mechanism through which to collect it.

Engaging youth in agriculture. Investing in our future. / Published September 16, 2014 by David Mwenda

Engaging youth in agriculture. Investing in our future.

With an expected population of 9 billion by 2050 and declining interest of youth worldwide to remain in rural areas and take up agriculture, who will feed this growing population? Youth make up about one fifth of the population of developing and emerging economies and face global unemployment levels from 10-28%[1]. The number of young people of working age is increasing while this same group continues to shy away from careers in agriculture.

Agriculture has an image problem. There is a decreasing interest among youth in entering agricultural related fields due to the persistent perception of agriculture as an outdated field with minimal financial returns. But it remains true that youth face large challenges accessing land and finance without collateral.

The average age of a farmer is 52 in Brazil, 57 in the USA and 60 in Africa. Many agricultural research institutions have a disproportionately large number of staff close to retirement age. This shortsightedness is impacting the sector now, with increasingly fewer qualified mentors to pass on knowledge and skills to the new generation, which will only get worse.

While the lack of youth in agriculture is well documented, plausible strategies for addressing the issue are not. Youth inclusivity, while recognized as important tends to become a ‘side issue’, with experts preferring to look at mainstreaming options instead of tackling the issue head on. But we must recognize it for what it is: a critical threat to future food security that must be addressed now. And in addressing it, we must ensure that youth, the key stakeholders in this process, are involved.

Policy: To create an enabling environment for youth to enter into the agricultural sector, a supportive policy environment focused on youth is required. Access to land and finance is a barrier for many, which is essential for farming and agricultural entrepreneurship. Youth specific policies as well as providing a space for youth to engage in policy discussions are required.

Youth inclusion in the development of policy on an organizational level is also important and can be facilitated through youth representation and/or advisors on boards, steering and/or executive committees.

Attracting Youth: Agriculture is not featured promintnely in the media and is rarely glamorous when it is. Working with the media to provide more interesting portrayals of agricultural careers is important, as is working with ICTs and social media to reach a broader audience.

Education: The skills and competencies of agricultural graduates do not meet the needs of today’s agricultural sector. Curriculum reform in tertiary level agricultural education is required to meet the demands of the labour sector, with particular attention to agribusiness and entrepreneurship, where many youth demonstrate an interest. Youth require a range of skills and competencies beyond their technical discipline, particularly those ‘soft’ skills such as communication, leadership and business skills. Reform of the agricultural curriculum must be a fully inclusive process which involves a wide range of stakeholders including youth.

With high unemployment rates globally and the lack of interest in traditional agricultural pursuits, a greater focus on entrepreneurship in agriculture is emerging. Entrepreneurship has the potential to contribute to the rejuvenation of the industry, creating more employment opportunities, increasing the potential for profit and moving away from the perception of agriculture as a low prestige career.

A responsible agriculture, meeting global food security needs without depleting its resources, can only become a reality if young professionals are actively engaged in shaping the sector’s future.

Our Team

Our Mission

Our mission is to inform, educate and promote Young people in the agriculture industry.Read More

Our Background

Promoting opportunities for youth in agriculture Foundation for Young Farmers “F4YFKenya” intends to attract the younger generation back into farming. We’re defining the issues that young farmers face ...Read More

The information contained here represents student project ideas developed as the result of brainstorming activities during Round 1 of the TFF Challenge. It does not represent any final business plans or commercial products.