How technology is making agriculture and agribusiness “cool” for young people



How technology is making agriculture and agribusiness “cool” for young people

For many years, agriculture was seen by young people as a domain for the elderly.

Upon graduation, young people left farms in rural areas and traveled to cities and urban areas in search of white-collar jobs.

However, things are changing, albeit gradually, thanks to new innovations in agriculture, which help farmers predict rainfall, fight disease, manage crops and sell produce online.

Sriram Bharatam, founder of Kuza Biashara Limited, a social enterprise, believes that Kenya is Africa’s Silicon Savannah with an endless array of agri-tech opportunities.

“There are over 60+ innovators, especially in the digital agriculture space alone, that are here directly or through partners and there are so many innovations emerging,” Mr. Bharatham.

These new innovations, he says, have drawn young people from urban settings to the villages over the past three years in agriculture.

“In the last three years alone, we have seen a massive increase in the majority of them (young people)…moving to the villages to do farming on their own. lots of innovation.

Last week, Yara East Africa, an agri-input manufacturer and distributor, launched a 12-week leadership academy to train micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) owners (especially young people and women) to across the country.

The selection process for the first cohort of 500 farmers and agribusiness entrepreneurs has already started. The academy is a partnership between Yara, Kuza Biashara and USIU.

“Yara is committed to promoting the development of competitive and sustainable Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Kenya’s agricultural sector,” said William Ngeno, Yara East Africa Country Manager, at the launch of the program last week.

“Our leadership academy’s one-on-one mentoring approach will help MSME business owners better integrate and apply the knowledge they have learned from the academy in their businesses while harnessing the power of digital technologies to help them strengthen the resilience and growth of the company.”

Data from the Ministry of Agriculture shows that the average age of a Kenyan farmer is around 60, slightly above the life expectancy of 65.

Young people – under the age of 25 – on the other hand, make up about 60% of Africa’s population

According to Heifer International’s US survey titled “The Future of African Agriculture: An Assessment of the Role of Youth and Technology” which was conducted last year, the best way to engage young people in Agriculture in Africa is driven by technological innovation (39%), government support for young farmers (32%) and the inclusion/adoption of young people in agricultural policy (21%).

This shows the importance of technology in driving young people away from office jobs.

Data from the Ministry of Agriculture shows that the average age of a Kenyan farmer is around 60, slightly above the life expectancy of 65.

Young people (under 25), on the other hand, make up about 60% of Africa’s population.

To attract the above age group into agriculture, it is necessary to accelerate technological investments in rural areas.

Ronald Dianga, a young digital farmer in Nairobi, chose to go into farming. Unlike his peers who scorn agriculture for better jobs in urban areas, Mr. Dianga chose to get his hands dirty.

He adds that new solutions in agriculture are making farming easy and attractive for young people.

“The next phase of agriculture is going to exploit every opportunity to provide more jobs for our other young people like us,” Mr. Dianga said at the launch of the Yara academy.

Smartphone penetration over the past four years has made it easy for young farmers to access information online.

In the quarter ending December 2021, data from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) showed that the number of people owning feature phones and smartphones stood at 67.9% and 54.5% respectively .

Twiga Foods, an agri-tech company that connects farmers to buyers, is also revolutionizing the agricultural sector with an online marketplace that makes it easy for farmers to get customers with the click of a button.

Last year, it launched an e-commerce platform called Soko Yetu, which can be accessed on both web and mobile, allowing sellers to access products from various vendors, including fresh produce.

It also gives them access to lower prices, an assortment of products and other value-added services.

“For many of our suppliers, Soko Yetu has become essential in running their businesses. We continue to look for ways to improve their experience and make sure we give them what they need to grow their business,” the company’s managing director for East Africa, Yebeltal, said earlier. Getachew.

Sellers will also be supported with loans and insurance, as well as cashback through the e-wallet when they shop.

“In the near future, providers will be able to generate additional revenue through the sale and purchase of airtime, feed tokens and other value-added activities to enable them to grow their business,” said the CEO.

However, Mr. Bharatam says there is a need for human training on these innovations to boost agricultural development in the country.

“Digital technologies are great, but you need a human user interface and this is where women, youth and MSMEs play a very important role in bringing some of these technologies to the ground and c is a bigger opportunity,” he said.

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