- The minister said the initiatives by the county government align with Canada’s international assistance policy.
- Hussen visited projects by youth groups engaged in agripreneurship.
Canada has applauded Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru for her efforts to promote youth agripreneurship.
The county government has done a great job in taking up modern agricultural techniques and supporting young people to embrace agriculture as a career option for economic development for themselves, their families and their community, Canadian minister for International Development Ahmed Hussen said.
Hussen visited projects by youth groups engaged in agripreneurship.
He said that by training young people to use digital technology in agriculture, they are able to exploit the space as well as disseminate the same to farmers across the county.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to come and see how young people are embracing agriculture as a path for career option for economic development, and I commend the Kirinyaga county government in partnership with other players for their initiative in leveraging agriculture as a source of economic prosperity and development for the community," the minister said.
He was accompanied by the Canadian High Commissioner Christopher Thornley, Unicef- Generation Unlimited CEO Kevin Frey and Sriram Bharatam, Kuza CEO.
The minister said the initiatives by the county government align with Canada’s international assistance policy that focuses on youth and women's empowerment.
“There is absolutely great potential for partnership in Kirinyaga and one of my priorities as the new Minister for International Development is on how we can better use our development dollars to encourage and support economic empowerment and development in the developing countries with agriculture being central to that,” Hussen said Hessen.
He said Kirinyaga is an example of a county that has realised the real potential of agriculture as an economic driver.
He noted that the projects in Kirinyaga are empowering youth and women to get into agriculture as a valuable proposition for a career and economic development for the entire community.
The minister interacted with the county youth agripreneurs as they showcased what they have achieved through integration of digital technology in agriculture to increase production, provide extension services to farmers as well as create market linkages for themselves and other farmers.
He termed the e-agriculture programme being run through collaboration of the county government and other partners as an inspiration and the future of agriculture.
Kirinyaga Deputy Governor David Githanda, who accompanied the delegation during the field visit, said the county government has been running a disruptive agricultural technology initiative that promotes the use digital technology in agriculture to increase production and profitability.
He said that so far 200 farmers groups involving 4,000 members have been connected to agricultural digital solutions through Kuza Biashara innovation programme. He said that plans to scale up the programme to 940 groups comprising of about 19,000 members are underway.
Through the initiative farmers are able to access agriculture extension services, business incubation opportunities, market linkages and subsidised soil testing services and financial literacy.
The programme targets to establish 80 demonstration farms in public schools across the county with each ward having four farms, one being a centre of excellence. This is in order to inculcate the value of agricultural production to students as well as creating a teaching model for the surrounding community of smallholder farmers to learn good agricultural practices that can be replicated in their individual farms.
The county government has also completed the construction of Wezesha Kirinyaga Agro-Digital Hub at Kandongu that will be used as digital agriculture innovation centre for promotion of digital extension services and incubation of agribusiness ideas.
Githanda said under Wezesha programme, the county government has supported about 619 farmers groups to increase production through diversification and application of modern agricultural technologies and practices. The value chains that have been supported include tomato, avocado, dairy, poultry, dairy goats, beekeeping, fish farming and pig farming among others.
He encouraged young people to change their mindset on agriculture and see it as an income-generating venture that can uplift their living standards.
James Mbogo, the chairman of Mwihotori Youth Group in Kerugoya and one of the beneficiaries of the county’s disruptive technology agriculture, said he is now able to operate his agribusiness in a more professional manner.
His group grows tomatoes in a greenhouse constructed for them by the county government. He said before the county government intervened, members used traditional agricultural practices that were not only expensive but would not guarantee return on their investment.