Kakamega, Bungoma and Siaya counties have initiated a two day youth conference aimed at encouraging young people to engage in agriculture.
The conference will bring together some 800 rural youth from Western region, sector players from both levels of government, Universities, agricultural practitioners, development partners financial institutions focusing on agriculture.
It is supported by the German Development Corporation (GIZ). It started yesterday at Bukura Agricultural College in Kakamega.
It aims at spur the youth to engage in agribusiness and contribute towards food security in line with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda.
The conference, the first of its nature in the region since inception of devolution seeks to sensitise rural youth on employment in agriculture and promote agripreneurship.
Kakamega deputy governor Philip Kutima said the event was organised in recognition of the sector’s potential to create diverse rural livelihood opportunities in line with the Big Four agenda.
The four are food security, manufacturing, affordable housing and universal healthcare coverage.
“Working towards validating the national youth strategy, the symposium will assess agricultural challenges and opportunities through youth participation and ultimately address their untapped potential to play a key role in transforming agriculture in the region,” Kutima said.
Kutima said that the two levels of government were working in collaboration to ensure the Big Four agenda is achieved.
Bukura Agricultural College Principal Richard Wekesa said that the average age of a farmer in Western region is 60 years as youths have shunned agriculture.
“It is unfortunate that counties in Western region depend on foodstuffs imported from the neighbouring counties despite having adequate rainfall with fertile soils capable to support horticulture and healthy young men but you find them in Boda boda and not farms,” he said.
He said that statistics indicate that over 75 percent of students who train at the college comes from outside western region despite it being one of the oldest in the country.
We want to shift the mindset of youth on agriculture as a source of employment and not just for food to eat at home.
Siaya ECE for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Charles Ogada said that over 65percent of Siaya population were youth but less than 35 percent of them engage in agriculture.
He said that the county faces challenges in empowering the youth because of their large numbers and taking up agriculture will go a long way in address unemployment.