Courtesy of SlovakAid
Moses Ndonye is a carpentry student and a son of a small-holder farmer living in the semi-arid area of Subukia Constituency in Nakuru County. Like many other young people in rural areas of Kenya, Moses had little interest in farming before joining the Agribusiness Club of Subukia YP – a joint initiative of the Kenyan Network for Ecofarming in Africa (NECOFA) and the Slovak People in Peril Association (PIPA).
In places like Nakuru, where the population depends heavily on farming, lack of suitable and affordable technologies and inadequate financial services for small-scale farmers lead to low agricultural productivity. Most of the agricultural products are sold raw with little added value, keeping the farmer’s profits low, and making the sector unattractive to young people. As a result, many young people of rural areas migrate to cities where they often struggle to earn income, while the rural areas suffer from the lack of manpower and the average age of small scale farmers is growing.
At Subukia and six other Youth Polytechnics across Nakuru County, NECOFA and PIPA facilitated the establishment of demonstration gardens, animal husbandries and cottage industries, in order to expose the rural youth to practical skills in the complex chain from ecologically friendly agricultural production through value addition and food processing to marketing, distribution and sale of food products around villages, towns and cities. The idea is to support young small-holder farmers to maximise profits from their land, make them stay and choose agribusiness as a means of living.
Moses’s interest in agriculture was triggered after he joined the Subukia Agribusiness Club. “When I joined the YP, I was focusing on finishing my course and moving from school, but from this project I have gained a lot of knowledge which has helped me think otherwise.” He says. “I have realized that you can do farming and God can bless you and you produce a lot of products which can really improve your standards of living. So for me I have decided to focus on farming instead of migrating.” After going through the training, Moses acquired skills such as how to grow crops without using chemicals, how to practice crop rotation, rear livestock, as well as various value addition techniques. “From this project I have learnt that it is possible to do farming without using chemicals and fertilizers. I have tried this at home and it is better than using chemicals. Although fertilizers accelerate crops growth, organic crops are healthier and nutritious. This is an advantage because at home we have a lot of manure, thus reducing the cost of purchasing fertilizer. So I will only need to buy seeds. I have practiced this at home and I have seen a lot of improvement.”
These skills were particularly useful, given that Moses is one of the 15 children of a small-holder farmer, Mr Paul Ndonye, who was the sole breadwinner of the family. Paul has witnessed his son’s growing interest in farming and appreciated Moses’s help around the family farm. “Even when I am not around I leave [the farm] under his care and I am comfortable with it,” Paul says.
Moses has been sharing the acquired skills and knowledge with the family members, but also with his immediate community. “For the family, they always ask me to train them on what we have learnt in the school on farming and livestock rearing and they are happy about it . A District Officer and other people from the area came [to school] to learn on farming and enquire why maize is being affected by diseases. I was given the opportunity to talk with them and I informed them that maize disease could be caused by prolonged use of fertilizer and failure to practice crop rotation thus causing soil infertility,” Moses explains.
At the father’s farm, Moses constructed a small garden to practice the techniques he had learned at the ABS club. After a few months he managed to harvest his first yield. From the profit he had made he was able to pay school fees without having to ask for father’s help. This was very encouraging for him and prompted even more interest in agribusiness. “Once I am finished with my course I will go back home and start farming as I have realized that farming can be a good business which I can advance once I am through.”
This initiative of spreading practical knowledge by vocational schools in Nakuru region has been realized thanks to financial support by SlovakAid.
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