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Youth agribusiness project promises a bright future

Milliam Murigi @Millymur1

A new project launched recently in Nairobi will boost business and employment opportunities for thousands of young people in the agricultural sector in Kilifi and Nakuru counties, Kenya.

Youth Economic Empowerment through Agribusiness in Kenya (Vijabiz) is a joint project implemented by Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the USTADI Foundation, with funding from the International Fund for Agricultural Development. The project will directly benefit up to 150 youth groups, many led by women, comprising more than 1,000 small agribusinesses and 2,250 youth.

Vijabiz aims to promote innovative, attractive and sustainable employment for  the youth by providing training, coaching and mentoring in the entrepreneurship and business skills needed to develop and run successful agricultural enterprises. The initial focus will be on cereals, dairy and fishery value chains.

Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy, contributing over half of the country’s gross domestic product, but young people often prefer white-collar jobs in urban areas. Youth aged between 15 and 35 years already account for more than 35 per cennt of the country’s population and 60 per cent of its workforce, but 20 per cent to 30 per cent of this demographic are unemployed, compared with a national average of only 10 per cent unemployment. And another million young people enter the job market each year.

Michael Hailu, CTA Director said; “Youth bring with them innovative ideas, ready uptake of technological know-how and a willingness to take risks. But what they often lack is access to the skills, knowledge and resources they need to make use of these talents. This project will make a significant contribution to increasing employment, enhancing food security and alleviating poverty.”

Maureen Mwangovya, Minister in Charge of Youth and Gender, Kilifi County: “Youth involvement in agriculture has been low, among both males and females. This is mainly due to a negative attitude towards agriculture. Vijabiz’s intervention will help address this challenge, increase employment and provide support to develop ICT in agriculture, which will empower youth in the counties.”

In addition to the capacity-building activities, Vijabiz will provide support in identifying market opportunities and value-adding activities, building links to markets and gaining access to financial support. Professional agricultural organisations and incubators will play a key role in mentoring and incubating the nascent agribusinesses.

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