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    By George Munene

    According to the 2019 Kenyan population and housing census 30.2 million (78.3%) of the country’s population, is aged 35 and younger. The average age of a farmer in Kenya though remains 60 years despite the youth (18-34 year olds) making up 29% of the population and the unemployment rate among this cohort being a conservative 35%.

    The government has for a long time been trying to get the youth engaged in agriculture and with schools closed at least until the turn of the year, many young people are desperate for a source of income.

    We want to bring forth stories from across the country of the youth just now getting into agriculture or those who were already engaged in agribusiness, highlighting their success, the challenges they face and failures.

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    Tony Munene is a 24 year old student at Thika Technical Training Institute. On half an acre at Nkubu town, Meru County, he practices mixed farming majoring in cabbages which he has 4,000 of. He’s been farming for 3 years now, but mainly did this over the holidays. With Covid-19 putting most learning on the backburner, he has gone full hog into farming. At 2 ½ months, he’s already harvesting some of his cabbages and selling them to neighbours and friends. The market for cabbages, he says, has been lukewarm; he is selling a head of the giant Michelle F1 variety for Sh30.

    After tilling his land, he transplants his cabbages from his nursery with fertiliser. 2-3 weeks later, he top dresses them with fertiliser and manure. At times, he has no manure or it is inadequate, to meet this deficit he increases the quantity of fertiliser he applies.  

    Some of the marketing strategies he employs confirm his youth; he hawks his cabbages on WhatsApp class groups and has found good business in this as yet untapped agricultural marketplace.

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    He hopes to make about Sh80, 000 from his cabbages over 3 months, deducting Sh20-30,000 for production costs, transport and incidentals he is looking to net at least Sh50-40,000 

    Being a young farmer has its unique set of challenges as he explains: “At times I do not have adequate funds, and as I am not formally employed this forces me to look for odd jobs and plough what I get into buying fertilisers or pesticides.” This leaves time for his crops to be attacked by pests and hinders their optimal growth. It also takes away from time he could have used to tend to his crops. 

    Despite this, he remains unbowed, determined to make his farming story a success. 

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    chia seeds salvia hispanica 500x500By John Matava

    Homabay farmer Philip Odhiambo is earning Sh60,000 every three months from Chia, which is twice as much as he was earning from the same plot down to amaranth.Philip used earn Sh30,000 per harvest from the amaranth, which takes two months to mature. However, in 2017, he switched to chia farming after realising the strength of its prices, short maturity period and nutritious benefits.From an acre he gets an average 400kgs that retail and at Sh150 per kilo to earn Sh60,000. He could  earn three fold by selling to the international market where a kilo goes for Sh600 to Sh1200.

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