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New farming project to change lives of young rural Kenyans

By Practical Action On 26.06.2023 Food & agricultureFarmingPress release

Tens of thousands of young people in rural Kenya will benefit from a new initiative to help them develop their farming skills and grow food sustainably.

A group of young, rural Kenyans engaging in a new farming project to change lives.

A growing number of young people in Kenya leave rural communities hoping to find work in cities, only to discover that there are not enough professional jobs for them. Their leaving profoundly affects food production in rural communities.

In response, Practical Action and the Mastercard Foundation have partnered to establish the Resilient Agriculture that Works for Young People (RAY) project. The RAY project is expected to benefit more than 100,000 young women and men in the western region of Kenya over the next five years by adopting a mentorship approach to accelerate their adoption of sustainable farming practices.

Young people, who account for over 35 percent of the country’s population and 60 percent of its total labour force, will be given access to markets and supported to build strategic relationships with key players to build their own successful farming enterprises. This will increase income and job opportunities for 70,000 women and 30,000 men aged between 18 and 35 in target areas.

Young people will also work closely with Practical Action to kick-start businesses and improve their access to knowledge, training, and finance. The project is being delivered in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation under its Young Africa Works strategy, which seeks to enable 30 million young people in Africa to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030.

Susan Maina, Practical Action Country Director for Kenya, said, “I’m thrilled to be overseeing work that can provide a blueprint for the whole of the Kenyan rural economy.

“For years, farming has been perceived as employment of the last resort and the flow of young people from rural areas to cities has left our agricultural sector struggling to meet demand. This project intends to show how we can reverse this trend, not only for the 100,000 people we’ll be working with, but for many thousands more around the country.

“We will be implementing the work in partnership with Mastercard Foundation, which is exciting. They share our vision for a future where young people can find profitable work in an attractive, resilient agricultural sector.”

The project, when successfully implemented, will:

  • Provide young people with the skills to start and operate their agricultural businesses sustainably and effectively.
  • Open doors for youth-focused agribusiness initiatives by including them in the development plans of county governments – thus a better operating environment.
  • Encourage community members, particularly those involved in agriculture, to support young women’s involvement in farming.
  • Enhance young people’s access to education and training to help them adopt regenerative agriculture techniques.
  • Enable 85 percent of young people to access affordable and appropriate financial products to start and expand their agricultural businesses.
  • Make it easy for young people to acquire land and farming tools by establishing relationships with suppliers and landowners.
Two young Kenyans working on a life-changing farming project alongside chickens in a coop.

The new project will take learning and successes from Practical Action’s Transforming rural economy and youth livelihood (TREYL) program in Homa Bay and Kisumu County. There, regenerative agriculture and a circular economic approach is encouraging young people to adopt farming and develop rural businesses.

The new five-year Resilient Agriculture that Works for Young People (RAY) project will be implemented by Practical Action in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation.