Agriculture’s role in building a healthy nation through food and nutrition security, providing jobs and driving wealth creation through agribusiness is critical to Kenya’s economic development as seen in the country’s development blueprint Vision 2030 and the current government’s Big 4 Agenda.
According to the World Bank, growth in the agriculture sector is two to four times more effective in raising incomes, especially among the rural population compared to other sectors.
It is estimated that over the next 15 years, about 1.6 billion people globally will reach working age in low and middle-income countries, which includes Kenya. Where will they work? What will they earn? The challenge we will have as a country is sustaining and improving employment for the estimated 800,000 people joining the workforce annually and creating jobs for the next generation. To address this, it is important to take a closer look at the role the agri-food sector plays in combating unemployment as we demystify stereotypes around employment opportunities in agriculture.
Today, most Kenyans are not shying away from venturing into the sector as its lucrative nature has been revealed by success stories from candidates who ventured into the field and prospered. The sector employs more than 40 per cent of the total population and more than 70 per cent of Kenya’s rural people, and we expect agriculture to remain the top employer for the foreseeable future.
Though farming still dominates as the larger share of agricultural employment in Kenya, the agri-food sector comprises more than just primary agricultural production. It includes food storage, processing, distribution, transport, associated logistics, retailing, preparation, restaurants, promotion, and other services that together include many enterprises and a relatively large share of jobs in the manufacturing and services industries in Kenya.
What Careers are Available in the Agri-Food Sector?
There is a diverse range of jobs for agricultural graduates in the agri-food sector, spanning dozens of fields. Below, we will discuss some of the different career areas that agricultural candidates can tap into to access employment in the sector.
Food and Biomaterial Production
This career area involves processes that contribute to the production of crops and animals. These include job opportunities in fresh, locally grown food production, poultry and swine production, crop production, forest management, precision agriculture, quality assurance and many more. Specific positions related to this category include farm manager, starting your own farm as a farmer, horticulture production manager, crop management consultant, aquaculturist, agronomists, irrigation specialists, animal nutritionists, equipment operators etc.
Additionally, to adapt production systems to climate change and ensure environmental conservation many green-collar jobs are available that are related to developing, use, maintenance, management, and analysis of natural resources. This career path includes occupations involved in water and air pollution control, waste management and disposal, recycling, research, quality control and public health issues.
Management and Business
As the agri-food sector grows, a significant proportion of job opportunities will be in management and business. For example, entities that lend to agribusinesses such as banks and SACCOs need appraisers, loan officers, and financial analysts that understand the agri-food sector well. Insurance companies that have agriculture products also need risk managers who understand the risks involved in the agriculture value chains, and agribusiness companies like exporters, food processors, grocery shops, restaurants etc, need accountants, sales representatives, marketing managers, personal assistants, customer relations specialists and more who have knowledge on the agri-food industry.
Additionally, projects and agribusinesses in the sector need project managers, data analysts, digital marketers, agricultural economists, e-commerce specialists and many others.
Science, Technology and Research
With the dynamic nature of the agri-food sector and globalization, there is a lot of work done around technology development, dissemination and adoptive use. New innovative technologies will continue being a driving and success factor in the sector as efforts intensify towards enhanced productivity, improved efficiency and investments in competitiveness.
As Kenya’s agri-food industry grows in tandem with modernization and enterprise development to feed a growing population, a lot more employment opportunities will keep opening to sustain and advance this growth. These include crop and animal scientists, breeding specialists and researchers, laboratory technicians, lab equipment maintenance, food technologists and food scientists, IT software designers, biological and genetic engineers, environmental scientists, and many more occupations involved in bulk food production, the discovery of new food sources, the analysis of food content, and the development of ways to process, preserve, package or store food according to consumer needs.
Education, Communication and Public Service
This area is significant to: continuity through agricultural education to ensure continued interest and development of the agri-food sector; information flow to communicate along the value chain from production to consumption; and, quality public service delivery by government agricultural agencies. Related careers include agriculture teachers, tutors and lecturers, extension officers, agri-food communications specialists, editors and journalists, plant and animal inspectors, licensing officers, agri-nutrition community workers, home economists and many more jobs related to information transfer and government services in the sector.
The above is not an exclusive list of existing jobs in the agri-food sector, as there are many more employment opportunities available. At BrighterMonday, we are working towards enhancing the employability of agricultural candidates.
To kickstart your career journey in the sector, click this LINK to access opportunities for soft skills training opportunities and agricultural job listings.