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Re: Sustaining the Impact of Capacity Development Initiatives for African Youth in Agriculture

James Aucha
James AuchaAfrican Agribusiness Incubators Network (AAIN)Kenya

1. Greatest challenge youth face after going through youth in agriculture capacity building is finding a place to anchor their interventions. This goes beyond mentorship and access to capital as they need to have their interventions feed to and be fed from stable enterprises in a business context. This is a gap Greenfarm Agribusiness Incubation Network (GAIN) is working on with a equal measure of success and challenges (that are being converted to opportunities for accelerated growth).

2. Examples of post-capacity development initiatives include;

a) Greenfarm International contracts to buy Brachiaria fodder in Kenya at Ksh 250 (about USD2.5) per bale from farmers. Youth were empowered by Greenfarm International (a start-up member of GAIN) to develop contract farming to collect the fodder and sell it to Greenfarm International with a margin of Ksh 25 for each bale. Greenfarm International finances all purchases, transport and storage. This is an example of a success story as well working in Bungoma and Trans-Nzoia Counties of Kenya.

3. Post capacity support youth need is in 3 areas;

a) Refining the business model based on an anchor framework as defined in (1) above

b) Support in mapping business opportunities

c) Provision of business infrastructure so that one only directs money to the real business. GAIN has set up furnished work stations with internet, finance and HR services where a start-up pays Ksh 10,000 (USD 100) monthly and works with no other costs for power, internet, licenses etc. There are also sites for animal rearing such as pig pens and poultry units hence a youth can just buy stock and lease the units. When he/she is not interested in the business, they will not have funds sunk in buildings that they do not need at the time. This also addresses the issue of access to land that has been a challenge to youth, but with this arrangement, it is no longer a significant challenge.

4. Enabling environment to ensure sustainability of youth in agriculture is an incubation ecosystem that allows them access to research and staffing (through internships) without paying for directly. Research is expensive (in-affordable) by start-ups yet market research is indispensable at all times.

5. Absolutely, technology has a great role. Many youth do not want to get to rural areas hence use of CCTV attached to their mobile phones enables them to manage farm based enterprises from the comfort of their urban centres. The capital outlay is high, but the benefits by far outweigh the costs.