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Youth challenged to venture into commercial farming for job creation and boosting the country’s food basket.

The youth have been challenged to be job creators rather than wait for employment in white-collar jobs, which have in the recent past proven unavailable.

This call was made by various leaders and youth from Kiambu County during a tour on the 700-acre Bendor Estate in Gatanga Sub-County belonging to businessperson Dr. Chris Kirubi (CK).

According to Samuel Mwangi, an agronomist in the farm, farming is a very viable business venture if only the youth took it very seriously as farm produce had ready market both locally and abroad.

“Availability of (white-collar) jobs these days is very limited even as the demand for the same keeps on increasing. The youth need not sit back and wait at home for the jobs that may not come anyway,” said Mwangi.

“There are numerous opportunities in value addition chain where one can exploit even if they do not have a shamba to farm. Alternatively, for those with shambas at home, one can venture into farming on a small scale and expand as they gained experience. This can be done individually or in groups,” he added.

He however cautioned the youth against expecting a quick fix into their venture as farming demanded a lot of patience and persistence.

Mwangi said that the farm was originally a coffee estate but last year, Dr. Kirubi initiated new projects to diversify their farming and create more job opportunities to both the local community and Kenyans at large.

“Currently, coffee is our main crop, occupying 270 acres. Last year, we introduced hash avocado farming under 20 acres of land which we plan to increase to 60 acres within the next few years. We also have 50 acres under bananas,” explained Mwangi.

The farm is also rearing Kienyeji chicken, fish and goats.

According to Mwangi, they plan to continue increasing and diversifying their production with time in line with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s BIG 4 Agenda.

“At the moment, the farm has a direct workforce of 500 people thus feeding approximately 2,500 people daily. We plan to increase this number as we go along. Consequently, CK signed a contract with Twiga Foods to supply bananas for domestic use thus supporting the government in its quest for food security,” he said.

The benchmarking trip that brought together 30 youth and small farmers from Kiambu County was organised by Gladys Chania following overwhelming demand from residents.

“This tour culminated from a photo I earlier posted on social media with CK at the farm which created a lot of interest with so many people requesting me to arrange for a session where they could come and learn from the farm. I am happy that they have learnt a lot from the visit,” explained Chania.

She appealed to Kiambu Government to come up with a programme where they could lease the vast idle land within the county to the youth for utilise them in commercial farming activities that would not only create jobs but also boost food security in the country.

She also suggested that they should also sink dams and water pans at various locations across the county that could provide regular water supply to enable locals engage in viable commercial farming.

“The activities in this farm are a big challenge to county governments as they seek to create more jobs for the youth and also to feed their people. We have witnessed so many people earning a living from this venture and it is my wish the same can be duplicated in counties especially when utilising idle land,” she said.

Catherine Muturi, a 4th year Law student, narrated of how she tried doing banana farming on their family land at Kithimani but failed  due to lack of the requisite knowledge to do bananas.

“I never knew that bananas need regular supply of water and manure to grow and just depended on rain water. Most of them dried up. How I wish I had such an opportunity as I would not have ended up losing that kind of investment,” she said.

Catherine is now earning about sh. 3,000 weekly from the sale of sukuma wiki and spinach she has grown on a ¼-acre piece of land.

She encourages other youth to venture into farming, as the returns are very good.

Zacharia Muiruri Ndung’u who is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Procurement and Analysis has over 40 dairy cows at their farm at Mang’u Location in Gatundu North Constituency with 20 of them already lactating.

He says that they have also ventured into avocado and macadamia farming, the proceeds of which he is using to pay for his university education.

“I inherited the idea of farming from my dad who is a career farmer. After campus, I realised that no job was forthcoming and I decided to join my father in the farm and so far I have no regrets,” he says.

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