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Make agriculture attractive to the youth for Kenya’s food security : The Standard

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Maize plantation in Njoro, Nakuru County. [File, Standard]

Agriculture is at a crossroad in Kenya and Africa at large. The sector suffers from image and manpower difficulties as youth are unwilling to venture into it while drought and hunger hinder the continent’s progress.

Statistics indicate that while the average age in Kenya is 19.5 years, the average age of a Kenyan farmer is 60, which raises doubts whether the country can be food secure when its most active population is not willing to participate in food production.
In addition, the uptake of agriculture courses in universities and colleges continues to diminish while people in rural areas are trooping to urban areas for white-collar jobs.
For instance, of the 106 courses that failed to raise students during the university selection this year, 26 were agriculture-oriented – raising the question why, in a country where food security is a challenge, young people do not see and take advantage of the opportunities existing in the sector.

SEE ALSO :State focuses on more pyrethrum farming

As the population grows in leaps and bounds and arable land diminishes due to increased urbanisation, the following strategies will have to be pursued to halt the dire situation and entice youth to agriculture.
First, agriculture needs to be promoted as an attractive and important business. For a long time, agriculture was associated with academic failures and retirees. For instance, if one retired from any white collar employment, he or she was given a jembe and a spade, signifying time to venture into farming.
This had a negative impact on agriculture among the youth who grew up with an attitude that agriculture was outdated, unprofitable, hard and dirty work. This perception needs to change if we have to nurture the next group of farmers who can feed our country.

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Second, finance and other resources necessary for successful farming need to be made available for the youth. Few young people own land and capital is out of their reach.
Policymakers should develop innovative financing concepts, strategies to identify and fund sustainable agriculture projects and platforms to identify young people interested in agriculture and agribusiness.

SEE ALSO :Sh16.5 million to boost farming in Meru

In addition, agriculture should be well-tailored to fit in the primary and secondary school curricula to create awareness of the sector as a potential employer at early stages of growth and also help to identify those young people who have an interest in it for further nurturing. Platforms that facilitate discussion among youth on agribusiness should be encouraged in higher education institutions.     
Third, the digital revolution offers  an opportunity to attract youth to agriculture through digital platforms and innovations such as social media, apps, robotics, IoT and artificial intelligence.
It is important to note that these are the youth territories and incorporating tech-farming ideas into our agriculture thoughts and education system would help sway some to the sector. These digital platforms can also be used to spread knowledge, build networks and reduce farmers’ costs in market access and information gathering while increasing their profitability.
The concept of smart farming should be encouraged and highlighted to capture the minds of the youth.
Making agriculture look profitable and therefore a sector where young people can realise enough revenue to support their lifestyles is easier said than done. For a long time, we are met by farmers’ laments about poor and fluctuating prices in the markets, the existence of middlemen who take advantage of the farmers and huge losses incurred due to bad weather.

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SEE ALSO :Use of smart cooking gas seeks to break African cities’ dirty fuel

Subsidies
This only works to create more doubts about a positive future as a farmer and therefore distancing more young people from the sector.
Making agriculture more profitable will require practical reduction of costs of farming through subsidies on farm inputs, making markets easily accessible and building of loss mitigation factors in case of bad weather.
In conclusion, while it may not be easy to change the millennial mindset about agriculture in a fortnight, baby steps must be made towards this if we are to succeed in improving Kenya’s food security in the long term. Africa has the youngest population and some of the most fertile lands globally and therefore enough resources to feed its people. What is lacking is the will and strategies to make it happen.
The writer is a lecturer in entrepreneurship and innovation at Kirinyaga University. [email protected]

SEE ALSO :Cabinet keeps Kenyans guessing on GMO verdict

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AgricultureThe youthFood security

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24 health centres set for slums in Nairobi

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24 health centres set for slums in Nairobi

Nairobi Metropolitan Services
Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) is set to construct 24 new health facilities in Nairobi’s informal settlements at a cost of Sh2 billion, in the next three months. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) is set to construct 24 new health facilities in Nairobi’s informal settlements at a cost of Sh2 billion, in the next three months.

The health facilities will be put up in Viwandani, Majengo, Mathare, Kayole Soweto, Korogocho, Kawangware, Gitare Marigu, Mukuru kwa Njenga, Mukuru kwa Reuben, Kibra and Githurai.

This even as plans are also underway to elevate Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital to a Level Five health facility.

The new development comes at a time when Covid-19 cases in the country continue to soar having passed the 10,000 mark with Nairobi County bearing the worst burden, especially the informal settlements.

The capital has been the epicenter of coronavirus accounting for half of the total cases across the country.

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According to NMS Director General Mohammed Badi, the construction of the facilities is part of new targets his administration seeks to achieve in the next 100 days.

“In my next 100 days, I intend to achieve building 24 fully functional hospitals in Nairobi’s informal settlements. Development comes at a cost and we must ensure we do not go back to where we came from,” said Major General Badi.

NMS Health Services Director Dr Josephine Kibaru-Mbae said out of the 24 health facilities, 19 will be constructed from scratch while the remaining five will be rehabilitated.

Early this month, the new office said Sh300 million will be spent in the current financial year to rehabilitate health facilities across the 17 sub-counties in Nairobi.

She pointed out that 10 out of the targeted number will be Level Two health facilities while the rest will be Level Three.

This, the director pointed out, is in line with NMS’s vision in terms of health care in informal settlements, which is provision of comprehensive and quality health services to city residents living in these areas.

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Consolidated Bank barred from auctioning transport firm’s trailers

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Consolidated Bank barred from auctioning transport firm’s trailers

Consolidated Bank has been stopped from repossessing and auctioning 33 carrier trailers over more than Sh35 million debt that a transport company owes it.
Consolidated Bank has been stopped from repossessing and auctioning 33 carrier trailers over more than Sh35 million debt that a transport company owes it. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Consolidated Bank has been stopped from repossessing and auctioning 33 carrier trailers over more than Sh35 million debt that a transport company owes it.

A Mombasa court made the order after Exon Investment Ltd went to the court lamenting that its properties were likely to be auctioned by the financial institution which had instructed an auctioneer to sell the assets.

The company had borrowed Sh200 million and used some of its assets including the trucks as securities to the loan.

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The ruling by Mombasa High Court Judge Dorah Chepkwony has come as a relief for the company whose property faces auctioneers’ hammer for defaulting on the loan it borrowed in 2013.

“In the meantime, there will be no disposal of any of the motor vehicles that are the subject of these proceedings by either party pending the hearing and determination of the matter,” said the judge.

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The bank has been directed to file and furnish the company with a statement of accounts stating the outstanding arrears as well as documents they intend to rely on to prosecute their respective cases.

The company entered into a hire purchase agreement with the bank for the purchase of 33 carrier trailers, with the lender financing the purchase to the tune of Sh100million inclusive of interest.

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EAC Adopts New Measures to Shield Local Industries

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Countries in the East African Community have adopted new Common External Tariff (CET) import duty measures that seek to protect local industries from cheap imports. The new import taxes took effect on July 1, raising import duty for some products to shield domestic industries, while lowering import duty on critical inputs.

Currently, the CET stands at 25% for finished goods, 10% for intermediate products, and 0% for raw materials.

Categories of the import duty measures include the Duty Remission for Industrial Inputs, Stays of Applications, and Amendments of the East African Community Customs Management Act, 2004.

Under Duty remissions, local manufactures can import raw materials not available in the region at lower rates. According to the East African Business community CEO Dr. Peter Mathuki, this provision will only apply to gazetted manufacturers who will apply to import specific amounts of imports at lower rates.

“The duty remission measures adopted by the EAC Partner States will ensure that local manufacturers can import raw materials and inputs which are not available in the region at a lower rate,” Mathuki said in a Statement.

READ ALSO: EAC Trade Down by 40% Due to Movement Restrictions

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Stay of Application allows EAC partners to agree on a CET on the final product to stimulate local production. Countries can apply a higher rate than the CET on products like garments, leather shoes and belts, processed tea, coffee, cocoa, edible oil, iron sheets, and metal products to protect local production. In this case, Kenya will maintain an EAC CET 25% duty on margarine and edible mixtures for a year. However, the country will apply a 35% import duty for clothing apparel, both knitted and crocheted for a year as they are sensitive to the country. Most countries in the region have applied duty rates between 35% and 60%, showing a common need to protect industries, and therefore review the CET.

Noting that the EAC cannot manufacture everything, Stay of Application allows countries to set duties lower than the CET on products like mobile phones, wheat, and sugar.

Individual Country Import Duty Could Prevent Uniform Policy.

Nevertheless, Mathuki believes that different stays of application could prevent the region from developing a uniform policy governing imports into the region. Further, it will prevent products that benefit from a uniform EAC CET from accessing the area at a preferential tariff. Mathuki, therefore, recommends a review to fastrack a harmonized CET.

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