I am Grace, a young African woman, pumpkin farmer, environmental scientist, and communications professional who was born, raised and educated in Kenya. Between 2000 and 2004 I attended Loreto High School Limuru after which I proceeded to Egerton University, Kenya to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Sciences. I graduated in 2010, eager to dive into a career in Kenya’s environmental sector, only to find that jobs were few and far between. So, I began working as a freelance writer until July, 2011 when I decided to cofound a community-based organization in my home community, the Youth Agro-Environmental Initiative.
The Youth Agro-Environmental Initiative highlights opportunities within the agricultural sector/ agriculture value chain for young people between the ages of 18 and 35. The agricultural sector in Kenya has the capacity to absorb most if not all of the unemployed youth in Kenya, providing employment for the youth and food security for the country. Unfortunately lack of knowledge and expertise, capital and access to markets has limited the entry of young people into the agricultural sector.
The initiative’s activities include agribusiness trainings as well as online and on-farm consultancy sessions targeted towards building agricultural expertise among the youth. Since 2011, the organization has held 10 agribusiness trainings and engaged over 1000 farmers providing them with information and expertise on agribusiness. The trainings focus mostly on high value crops such as mushrooms, strawberries and other horticultural crops.
In the next year, the organization hopes to train and provide consultancy services to over 1000 young aspiring and existing farmers. This will require holding about 50 trainings in the year at a cost of KES 22,500 ($281) each. We also hope to hold four young farmers conferences at a cost of 52,500 ($627). Finally, we are planning to introduce a young farmers market to facilitate market linkages for their farmers.