Agriculture is one of the most important sectors in the Kenyan economy. The sector is a critical driver of the country’s economic growth, contributing directly to about a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, the Agriculture sector is a source of income for 18 million Kenyans making up about 64 per cent of the country’s workforce and employing an estimated 70 per cent of the rural population.
This shows Kenya’s economic growth significantly depends on improvements in the sector, including enhanced productivity, access to markets, institutional capacities and skill development of the workforce in Agriculture.
Recognizing the importance of this sector, the Government of Kenya and development organisations have made commitments to improve agricultural productivity through policy, legal and regulatory reforms laid out in the government’s Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy. The achievements of set targets are envisioned to further expand the opportunities by the sector to increase the incomes and livelihoods of those who directly or indirectly depend on it to make a living.
With this background, BrighterMonday in partnership with GIZ Agri-Jobs 4 Youth is implementing an initiative dubbed the Vijana na Kilimo Project that will see improved youth employability and employment in Western Kenya, with expectations for spill-over benefits to other regions too.
So why is Western Kenya such a lucrative region for this initiative?
The significance of agriculture in Western Kenya
The Western Kenya region is predominantly rural hence agriculture value chains play a large role in the region’s economic and social development. This is evident by the importance accorded to the sector in the various county integrated development plans (CIDPs) that act as development blueprints guiding resource allocation by county governments.
About 80 per cent of the rural population in the region depends on agriculture, earning their daily bread from various on and off-farm activities along the value chain, from input supply to distribution and consumption.
Further, given the proven role of agriculture in food security and poverty alleviation, various development partners have committed significant levels of resources to support numerous initiatives on agriculture development in the region. One such initiative is the GIZ Agri-Jobs 4 Youth, a project implemented by GIZ n on behalf of the German Government.
The project’s overall objective is to improve training and employment opportunities for rural youth along selected value chains of the agri-food sector.
Youth Unemployment in the Region
The issue of youth unemployment is a national one with the last national census in 2019 reporting a 38.9 per cent rate. The high level of youth unemployment and a lack of services in rural areas are causing the young people mindful of their futures to migrate to towns and cities. Despite the importance of agriculture in the Western Kenya region as cited above, the youth have little incentive to seek employment in the sector.
The low subscription rate to agricultural jobs can additionally be attributed to the fact that agriculture is viewed as an unattractive field to venture into due to the intense labour that is put into it.
This can be remedied to improve youth employment levels in agriculture by investing in making the agri-food sector innovation and creating awareness amongst the youth on rewarding opportunities available to them within the region.
For the youth in rural areas to benefit from these opportunities, their employability needs to be enhanced through job-readiness skills training and career guidance in alignment with the labour demand of the agri-food job market.
What are we doing about it?
BrighterMonday has partnered with GIZ Agri-Jobs 4 Youth to reach 10,000 young people across the country, with a special focus on the Western region, providing them with a platform to access decent employment opportunities in the agri-food sector through the Vijana na Kilimo project.
The project will aim to bridge the information gap between job-seekers and employers on available opportunities. The youth will also benefit from training on selected soft skills that will enable them to apply for jobs online, write winning CVs, tackle interview processes and fit in the workplace upon placement.
To be part of the Vijana na Kilimo project by BrighterMonday and GIZ Agri-Jobs 4 Youth, register HERE.