Makueni County has rolled out a new food and nutrition security programme that will see 150 youth benefit from hydroponics training.
Working in partnership with the German Development Cooperation through GIZ and KCB Foundation, the partnership will see the youth aged 18 to 35 years under the Makueni Youth Empowerment Service (M-YES) undergo a 3-month hydroponics training at the Miramar International College, Kikuyu.
KCB is partnering with the county government and GIZ through its 2jiajiri programme.
Hydroponics farming is a soil-less farming method, and a subset of hydroculture, where plants are grown using only a mineral nutrient solution in a water solvent. The crops mature within 2 – 3 months.
The beneficiaries will be equipped with hydroponics techniques for producing leafy vegetables, tomatoes, strawberries and livestock fodder among other food crops.
Upon completion of the training, KCB Foundation will take the beneficiaries through business incubation services.
Beneficiaries will develop business plans and access discounted financing to construct greenhouses on land sub-leased from the Makueni County Government.
The beneficiaries are part of the Skills and Enterprise Development project, an initiative between KCB Foundation’s 2jiajiri programme and GIZ’s E4D/SOGA (Employment and Skills for Eastern Africa) programme that offers scholarships for vulnerable youth in technical and vocational courses in Agribusiness, Building and Construction.
The partnership will see a roundtable forum for private-sector stakeholders jointly convened within the county to facilitate internships, industrial attachments and job placements for 2jiajiri beneficiaries.
Speaking during the signing of the partnership agreement at the governor’s office, KCB Managing Director Jane Mwangi underscored the need for enhanced efforts towards providing technical and vocational courses to the youth, adding that this will play a great role in solving the current unemployment challenges in Kenya.
“With the reality of youth unemployment in Kenya, we in the private sector cannot just sit and watch, well aware that the government can only do so much. We must step in and step up the quest for creating more opportunities for self-employment for our youth,” she said.
Programme Director, Youth Employment and TVET Programme E4D/SOGA, Aregash Asfaw recognised the role this partnership will play towards improving SME competitiveness and economic opportunities among the youth in the County.
“This partnership is a great example of how development partners, the private sector and the county Government are working together to solve youth unemployment”, she said.
The beneficiaries will be provided with practical-oriented vocational training, life skills, work readiness training and enterprise development skills necessary to drive self-employment and wealth creation in agribusiness.
“The agribusiness training under the food security initiative takes three months. Thereafter, the beneficiaries construct greenhouses and begin the actual production of the vegetables. The youth will be organised into groups and facilitated to enter into production contracts with large-scale commercial off-takers and retailers such as supermarkets,” Mwangi explained.
Makueni Governor Prof Kivutha Kibwana said that his government had initiated youth-centric initiatives such as the Makueni Youth Empowerment Service to enable the youths to take charge and shape their own destinies.
“We remain committed to supporting youth-led initiatives which provide pragmatic solutions to the myriad challenges our young people face today,” said Kibwana.