Archive for January, 2014


Most African government are grappling with the problem of youth unemployment and it is a major problem. This is exacerbated by the fact that the youth now make up the largest share of the population in most African countries. A report by the World Bank, Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa that was published in Washington, January 27, 2014 says that raising earning potential among Africa’s growing youth population is a major priority for the region.

The report notes that it is more urgent than ever to pave the way for more productive job opportunities regardless of the type of work that young people will do—in the fast-growing modern wage sector, in household enterprises, or on millions of small family-run farms. It also notes that with the right combination of policies in place, Africa’s position as the “youngest” region in the world—in contrast to most other regions where populations are rapidly aging—could lead to greater prosperity at the household level, and major economic gains for African countries.

The 283 document goes a head to outline more priorities areas to address Africa’s youth employment challenge and I wish someone was reading. The report can be accessed here:Youth employment in Sub-Saharan Africa

With a greater focus to value chains in the recent years, there are now far more opportunities for young people to engage in Agriculture and find rewarding careers. For this reason, there is need for governments to formulate policies that will enable agricultural development and transformation to focus on the entire food and agriculture system rather than narrowing it to farming. While doing this, the governments should put in place measures that will successfully attract the youth into agriculture. Measures that will make it sexy enough to attract the youth.

In Kenya, the government seems to understand this need too well and it has undertaken several measures to promote agriculture in the country. First, the government has launched a project called e-Agriculture. This project is aimed at using ICT tools to ensure that farmers have access to all the necessary information through these tools. The government has therefore provided laptops and smart phones to the government extension workers and then trained them on how to access information for training farmers. This is aimed at attracting the youth into the sector as well as making it profitable.

With the ongoing devolution process in the country, county governments are working hard to ensure food security for their people. Counties are making huge financial allocations for agricultural developments. This money is being used in promoting initiatives aimed at increasing farm productivity and addressing challenges facing the Kenyan farmers. The current challenge being addressed at this level is the foot-and-mouth disease that is rampaging through the countries. Another project is a Sh22milion deal that was signed to boost fish breeding to supply up to 750,000 fingerlings and plans are underway to establish more than 750 ponds to increase fish production.

With the Kenya’s 47 counties all promoting agriculture, the sector is posed for a brighter future. Farming in Kenya is slowly gaining momentum with the hopes of alleviating hunger in the counties.

Quails

Every time people hear of an idea that would make them ‘millionaires’, no one wants to be left behind. Currently, the idea of that is making almost all individuals in Kenya to rush up is the Quail rearing. As to whether they know of the future implications, nobody knows. A few years ago, a neighbor hinted to my father that pork was where the next millionaires would rake in their millions. Gullibly to him, he took a loan and invested in pigs and patiently waited to play in the millionaire league. He wanted us to be rich.

It is a move he has lived to regret to this day; demand for pork was less than the supply as everybody in our area got the same wind of the brewing millions in pork . He had not been the only one eyeing the business venture. More and more neighbors had ventured in pig-rearing with the hopes of being among the successful people in the society. To be precise, almost every homestead in my homeland had not less than three pigs in their sty.

Naturally, the slaughterhouses overflowed with pork culminating to a throwaway price of the animals by our neighbors despite of the large amounts spent on their feeds, not to mention the hard work put into gathering the capital and halting any other projects to pursue this “filthy business”. People suffered heart attacks as they were caught off-guard, leaving them with creditors who were hot on their heels.

Apparently, this is what is happening in Kenya today. The same neighbor is urging as to join him in rearing the tiny wild birds known as quails. I advised him to be cautious lest he falters into debt and eventual madness caused by huge losses. These Isindus were trading at 10 shillings the other day and so it is hard to understand where this increase in value came from.

With many convictions on the increased value, some neighbors have been convinced to join this endearing quail meat/egg business. They are far from cautious; the countless birds in their coops paint the vivid picture of a person who is about to quit a day job and take on poultry farming.

Not that am against this venture but I encourage people to look beyond the present and where their quail birds will be in the near future. When the deal is too good, think twice.

An eventful vacation upcountry

Last year as the year drew to the end, my pals and I were wondering what we were going to do for the vacation. The ideas were many but it was difficult deciding just how we were going to spend our holidays. The ideas were floated but finally I had to make up my mind. I decided to go to the country side unlike my friends who went to the coast to swim and bask on sandy beaches. Having been away from the village life for some time, I knew it was going to be difficult but I was ready for the challenge and excited about it. My mind was set the targets I set for myself. By the time the holidays are over, I purposed that I should have learnt how to milk “mrembo” our cow – mother told me that she had given birth a a calf which they had christened “fuso”, my other target was to start up my own chicken project, grow tomatoes and toil on our family farm till I loose all the fats. Using one stone to kill two birds!!

Milking mrembo
Milking was the first task I undertook as it is what excited me the most. I thought it would be hard but was surprised how we easily got along with Mrembo. She let me squeeze milk from her udder without kicking me. I liked it too much that I made it my routine to milk every evening and morning. – Mom was relieved to have me as what had tired her had become my passion.

Elcah trying her hands on milking

Elcah trying her hands on milking

Toiling on the farm
In the village as part of their routine, everybody in the homestead has to wake up early to work on the farm before attending to other chores. I did it twice and I have to admit it was not easy for a city girl. I now understand why people are giving farming a wide birth. I would not have managed the two times I worked had it not been for my resolution to cut some weight. I later resorted to lighter stuff like spraying tomatoes and cabbages.
The cabbages and tomatoes above are part of my project – I hired some people to dig the land for me and now I manage the light work myself. I do a lot of reading to maintain my crops and I have to admit a got some guides on CTA’s website which have really helped me manage my crops. For the tomatoes mother told me she has already started harvesting and making money from them.

Elcah at work on the farm

Elcah at work on the farm

Chicken project
During this period I also started my small chicken project whereby I bought five chickens and am hoping that the neighbors’ cock will make them lay eggs and finally hatch chicks. These projects are all manned by my mother and I hope under her management they will all flourish. Looking forward to December again so that I can visit again.

One of my chickens stroll in our compound upcountry

One of my chickens stroll in our compound upcountry

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