Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why youths are giving farming a wide bath

The youths and by extension an Average adult Kenyan do not want to take farming as means of livelihood, it’s an income given other alternatives. Farming is left to the aged. This is due to the attitude among the people. From a tender age, children are brought up with negative attitude towards farming. When I was in school, one frequently asked question by teachers in my formative age was...'what would you like to be when you grow up?' Many of us would want to grow up to be Doctors, Pilots, Engineers and a host of other professions just name them, but non of us wanted to be a farmer. Our teachers would similarly talk proudly of these other professions as an indicator for success in life and good performance in school was measured against subjects that would lead to these careers. Agriculture was given a wide bath.

Today in Kenya, being a farmer is an indication of one being unemployed, underprivileged and economically ‘malnourished’. During the population census, unemployed and those who are less endowed financially preferred to say they are farmers in order to avoid searching questions and security officials associating them with criminal acts in the village. Agriculture is seen as synonymous to poverty. How do we get these youngsters in the photo adoring farming given the poverty they're living in? 

Now what does this portend for the youth? When you look at agriculture in last two or so decades, Farmers have been relegated to abject poverty; many agricultural sectors have performed poorly; sectors such as the pyrethrum sector, dairy, coffee, poultry and many other sectors have collapsed. Farmers are deprived of their earnings from the produce delivered or their earnings are meager. Their children were sent out of school and some would never come back. Does this bring the youth closer to Agriculture? The government needs to review its policies in agriculture and this is evident from the current crisis in the sector.

Revival of moribund co-operations such as KCC, Kenya Meat Commission among others, opening up market linkages, good prices for the farmers and enhancement of strategic information dissemination should be rethought. Though agriculture is optional in high schools, it provides a leeway to the few with cultivable interest in farming. The use of 4K clubs could be useful too. This among other factors would lead to a dramatic change in attitude change - if adult Kenyans would be proud to be associated to farming. Why not the youth?

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