NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 8 – The Ministry of Agriculture has expressed interest in collaborating with the KCB Foundation to expand ongoing programmes and learn from the Foundation’s work on training the youth on agribusiness.
Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said the ministry would seek to partner with the Foundation to ensure the challenges facing the current programmes are dealt with as the ministry learns from the Foundation’s experience.
Munya was speaking during a tour of a hydroponics farm in Ngong Friday, where construction of the first 100 hydroponic farming greenhouses under the KCB Foundation and Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works project is underway.
The Cabinet Secretary applauded the work on the project, which has employed 1,000 youth every day over the last nine months as they put up the greenhouses and the infrastructure needed for the innovative soil-less farming.
“Mine is to assure you that we as a ministry would want to work with you very closely to ensure that this project succeeds. There would be opportunities for collaboration with the Foundation for a similar programme that the Government is about to kick off,” said Munya.
“All we need to do is sit down with your team and see how we can work out a partnership because there is no need to reinvent the wheel because you already have training and skills-building,” said the Cabinet Secretary.
He said the Government programme has a risk-guarantee component of KSh800 million, and that could be extended to the youth trained by the KCB Foundation, who often need financial support before they can stand on their own.
The farm in Ngong is the first project under the KCB Foundation’s expansion of its targeted skills and entrepreneurial training programme for the youth 2jiajiri from the $125 million (KSh12.5 billion) secured from the Mastercard Foundation in 2019. Work at the site in Ngong is almost complete and more sites are set to start in Limuru, Ongata Rongai and Juja.
Under the Young Africa Works programme, the KCB Foundation plans to create 1.5 million jobs over the five years of the project’s implementation. This will be through the construction of 28,000 greenhouses in 560 sites across the country.
Munya said discussions would explore whether the risk-guarantee programme would work for the youth, who would then get access to cheaper loans that they can pay off in the longer term.
The Cabinet Secretary said the model taken up by the Foundation and the Government would want to work to expand the project.
“The average age of farmers is 59. We say that if nothing is done, agriculture is retiring. This model that you have come up with help to sort out that problem. I don’t think there is any other better way of attracting the youth in agriculture than being innovative, having ideas and using innovation and technology in agriculture,” said Munya.
KCB Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Joshua Oigara said: “The greenhouses have been manufactured and constructed by our graduates and ultimately will be owned by 2jiajiri graduates who have studied hydroponic farming, who will be linked to both local and international markets. The beneficiaries also get support from the bank to structure and run their businesses professionally besides obtaining support from a Sh20 billion kitty that we have specifically set aside for the youth under this programme.”