Agriculture ministry seeks programmes to enroll youths into farming

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Livestock and Cooperatives has embarked on partnerships with County Governments to implement policies geared towards making agriculture attractive to young persons.

Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary, Anne Nyaga said youth involvement in the practice had been hampered by poor perceptions that farming was for the elderly, poor information on access to market and lack of land and credit facilities.

Speaking at Njoro Girls High School where she unveiled an aquaponics unit, Ms Nyaga expressed concern that most of those involved in farming were aged between 55 and 70 years and had not embraced modern technological advances.

The CAS who was accompanied by Nakuru County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Fisheries, Livestock and Cooperatives Dr Immaculate Maina said President Uhuru Kenyatta had relaunched 4K clubs in schools as a way of changing attitudes of young Kenyans towards farming.

“We want the youth to practice farming as a form of employment. The decreasing number of young people in agriculture is already impacting the economy.

So far the government has installed aquaponics units in 55 schools. Our aim is to train the future generation on production of food that safe and nutritious,” She stated.

The situation, Nyaga stated, had been aggravated by the perception of agriculture as a last resort, one of hard labour and low monetary profit.

Dr Maina observed that low interest in agriculture among the youth could be partly attributed to public sector systems that have concentrated more on production with limited value addition, processing and marketing.

She indicated there was a growing need to offer mentorship programs, provide services including financial services and market information to youths who have completed their education.

Aquaponics unit encompasses rearing fish and growing vegetables using an integrated system.

It involves a water circulation system, where fish tank water is pumped to vegetables in greenhouses. Aquaponics uses no soil and instead the plant sits cozily in floating foam rafts hanging down into water filled tubs.

Fish excrement acts as a natural fertilizer and in turn the vegetables roots purify the water in this mutually beneficial system.

The third player in the system is the extremely important bacteria that break down fish waste into a form of nitrogen which the plant uses to grow.

Dr Maina said aquaponics had great potential to revolutionize production of fish and vegetables using less space, water and energy than ever before.

  

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