Farming is the direct way to solve the world’s food systems crisis. As food systems become complex and the world’s population increases, and with a declining average age of farmers, the youth are strategically placed to uptake and improve farming.
But they have to adopt modern farming methods, also called digital farming, for better results.
So, today we’re looking at how young farmers are changing the future of agriculture and food systems through the digital space.
Located at the heart of Eldoret town, Kikao64 creates a collaborative and engaging work environment for people to share resources and make meaningful connections. The Kikao64 co-working space and services are available to people at least 16 years of age. But that’s not all.
Kikao64 hub offers more than workspace. The community includes young farmers and agripreneurs involved in different value chains in food systems. These young people seek information, skill, knowledge, networks, and mentorship to promote their ventures and contribute to sustainable food systems. Kikao64 is best-placed to give the youth a digital space for learning, networking and to further the discussion of opportunities in agribusiness and food systems.
First, it’s common knowledge that the youth are the future of food systems – from farm to folk. Why?
There are several reasons. The key ones are:
But based on the previous trends, the youth have been shying away from agriculture and food systems. In fact, only 10% of the youth are engaged in food systems, and most of these are on the production side.
Several reasons are most rooted in the perception that different stakeholders give agriculture.
Youths don’t own land for production, and while they could, inheritance laws don’t allow them. If they seek loans for land lease, banks and other financial institutions require hefty collateral, which the youth lack.
The future of agriculture is digital. Digital farming means applying new technologies in farming such as digital communication, data science, automation, mechanization, and advanced sensors in the field and from space to enable them to produce more food, with fewer resources in a more responsible way. This gives more farmers access to better insights to take more optimal decisions, drive up yield, reduce waste, and drive up wealth – especially for the youth and in rural areas.
In crop nutrition, for instance, digital farming means finding the optimum fertilization and spraying program for individual fields. In marketing, it means using digital communication platforms to market produce.
Some key traits of the future of agriculture are:
It’s difficult to predict the future, but there’s an exciting future, with many opportunities for young farmers to explore and exploit.
Young agripreneurs are the driving force behind the new farming revolution. Many young agripreneurs are trying to reverse the stigma by professionalizing farming and transforming it into a more lucrative and attractive employment option for the youth.
So, what are the youth doing?
Their answer is in policy, technology, and innovation.
The youth are making their voices heard and theirs is a voice of change. Through networks and support from those in policy positions, youths are forming different policy advocacy forums to address their needs and involvement in food systems. They want a favorable business environment, non-discriminatory land ownership and credit laws, and good market structures. In Kenya, this has yielded the KENYA YOUTH AGRIBUSINESS STRATEGY 2018 -2022, which seeks to address these issues and more.
The youth have found themselves deep in technology and using different tech tools to support them in farming. At different levels, youth are engaged in food systems using technology such as mobile, laptops, GPS, and different apps to support their engagement in farming and food systems. Technology, particularly social media, has helped the youth in exchanging information, learning, networking, and Extension.
On Facebook, for example, there are different pages for farmers per region and all over the country. Good examples are the large farmers networking groups are #FarmersTrendKenya, Kenya Farmers Digital Market, Eldoret Dairy Farmers Association, Rift Valley Hay Growers, Agro Minds Africa Challenge, Digital farmers Kenya, and many more. These groups are youth-dominated and give them a platform to market their produce, share weather and climate information, as well as find and share knowledge, input, Extension, and skills.
Youth are adopting new technology innovations that can help mitigate the effects of climate change and grow more food with less input. Things like greenhouse production, hydroponics, feedlots, intensive irrigation farming are common among youths. There are apps and farmers’ programs on TVs that support youth engagement in agriculture. Youth seek more opportunities to be climate resilient and improve food production.
However, a lack of extension services has meant youth farmers have been unable to access or afford most of these new innovations.
It’s clear that a younger generation can help introduce and adopt new technologies whilst also learning from traditional methods for better food systems. This makes the youth hold the potential to offer the perfect fusion of new and traditional solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges.
Farming and food systems offer the youth a chance to make a difference by changing the face of farming through technology, changing agriculture’s perception, and growing enough food to feed the world. Even with the many challenges, if youths get enough attention to food systems in terms of financial inclusion, a voice at policy, engagement in innovations, and extension capacity, then the agriculture industry can attract more youth again. As Kenya seeks to find solutions to youth employment and feed the nation, young entrepreneurs working in food systems can help achieve this agenda.
When choosing a co-working space, you need a flexible and functional workspace that offers comfort, connectivity, and networking alongside ambient office space like Kikao64. Kikao64 is a flexible and creative coworking space and an incubator for Eldoret’s new high-tech community of entrepreneurs, start-ups, nonprofits, freelancers, creatives, and athletes. We offer beautifully designed and ergonomically mindful modern offices and meeting rooms for individuals & companies of all sizes. Book a Space online or walk in and take a tour to enjoy the best working environment.