Kenyan graduates embracing digital agriculture

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Gone are the times when a university degree in Kenya guaranteed one a cushy, well-paying job.

While some graduates could secure good employment across the country, many others are seeking alternative income-generating avenues away from urban centres due to poor job prospects.

Every year, over 30,000 students graduate from universities which adds to a pool of hundreds of thousands of job seekers in the East African nation that has a very high level of youth unemployment in the region.

Read: Uganda’s beacon of hope to curb unemployment revealed

Additionally, a 2020 survey by CPS International shows that 30 per cent of employers are unsatisfied with the talents newly-hired graduates cause board from university.

As a result, over the last several years, there has been a gradual change within the perception that young, educated Kenyans have had about what would are called less-glamorous jobs like in agriculture.

Technology has played a serious role during this transition making the once-brilliant statement ‘making agriculture sexy’ now a cliche. it’s are available handy in creating not only individual routes out of poverty but also enterprises that are helping chip the unemployment block employment at a time.

Agriculture employs about 70 per cent of all Kenyans, most of whom are in farming. As urban jobs prospects remain challenging, we are witnessing a kind of ‘exodus back to the farm’ by not just graduates but many unemployed others.

Social networking sites and therefore the internet are making farm-to-market linkages much easier such what would have taken days to seek out a buyer 10 years ago are often sold in minutes online.

Enabling programmes

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), through the Increasing Smallholder Productivity and Profitability (ISPP) project, aims to strengthen the capacity of smallholder farmers to manage their agribusinesses more reliably.

The programme provides knowledge and skills to stakeholders along the agricultural value chains with notable success in semi-arid lands of Kenya.

It is disappointing coming face to face with the youth unemployment reality in Kenya.

The Kenya Youth Agribusiness Strategy 2017-2021 notes that youth unemployment is above the general national percentage within the country.

The Kenyan economy has not been creating sufficient jobs for the increasing number of graduates entering the work market. This has led to the graduates seeking alternative options of economic empowerment.

Agriculture remains the backbone of Kenya’s economy and directly contributes 24 per cent of the annual GDP and another 27 per cent indirect contribution. It thus remains a critical sector in creating employment and intrinsically, one among the key sectors to deliver the ten annual economic process rate envisaged within the economic pillar of the Kenya Vision 2030.

The strategy seeks to realize growth through transforming small-scale agriculture from subsistence to innovative, commercially oriented and modern agriculture. Considering the high rate of youth unemployment and underemployment, the agricultural sector offers multiple livelihood and employment opportunities.

Read: Kenya receives sh15bn for youth jobs from World Bank

With technology, graduates won’t only return to the farm but also break limitations that have cumbered the agricultural sector and made it difficult to thrive within the sector.

In terms of creating sales, there are several platforms including on social media that lessens the time between getting a customer and making a purchase.

Platforms like Mkulima Young, which may be a free digital solution that link farmers with markets for farm inputs and farm products, are offering the convenience of selling what’s produced on the farm bypassing many hurdles that would not are overcome without the digital transformation.

A small vegetable garden which can be used to sufficiently feed a family. Many graduates are embracing digital agriculture and marketing their produce.

While getting into agribusiness, the common mistakes to avoid include:

  1. Doing little or no marketing research

Just like not planning for something is getting to fail, it is the same with agribusiness. Whether new or established, continuous research is vital to make sure that you simply keep your customers happy.

Starting a farming business isn’t as simple as acquiring land and starting producing. There is far more that you simply got to understand like regulations within the sector, sources of excellent quality seed etc.

  1. Producing without having buyers

There are many disappointments for people stepping into agribusiness without buyers for what they produce. We have heard of the quail scams, greenhouse plans which have failed terribly and other investment schemes that have cost investors tons in terms of cash and other resources.

As a primary timer, don’t hear of a farming venture and dive into it without a thought of the way to roll in the hay or where to sell your produce.

You may find yourself with rotting fish or quails you’ve got no idea of handling if you produce without doing due diligence about who your customers might be.

As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to understand where your produce are going to be sold before you start through researching your target market, potential customers and ask them what they might actually need from you. Value addition is additionally key.

  1. Thinking of agribusiness as a get rich quick scheme

If you would like success immediately, then you’re likely to be certain a rude shock. Get-rich-quick schemes are sure to end in losses – you’ll have heard of the Goldenscape Greenhouses scandal where investors allegedly lost many thousands. The case remains in court.

You are happier and better off approaching agribusiness with longevity of the business in mind.

Many thriving businesses have taken time to create. Agribusiness, like all other business takes diligence, patience and planning.

You should, however, not be easily discouraged. Continue learning from your mistakes.

  1. Assuming agribusiness is reasonable and anyone can roll in the hay

To achieve agribusiness, you’ve got to take a position enough resources in terms of your time, money and far more.

As a starter, having the proper approach will assist you put within the necessary effort.

Agribusiness is tough and it’ll take having a skin if you’re to enjoy the advantages within the future.

On top of those , you’d like to know your market and what frills you would got to increase your offering if they need to shop for your stuff and not someone else’s. Remember that as a beginner, it’s not new territory you’re venturing in since there are other farmers producing what you’re offering. You would like to understand what you point are going to be and this is often only through research.

While these aren’t exhaustive, agribusiness offers several opportunities which within the end of the day are going to be worth investing in.

Read: Tanzania and Germany partner to boost graduates’ marketability

I have 10 years of experience in multimedia journalism and I use the skills I have gained over this time to meet and ensure goal-surpassing editorial performance. Africa is my business and development on the continent is my heartbeat. Do you have a development story that has to be told? Reach me at njenga.h@theexchange.africa and we can showcase Africa together.

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