Today, many youths are struggling to find means of survival in urban areas. The highest number of graduates from our universities every year is adding to the increasing number of job seekers for white collar jobs.
In Kenya for instance, the youth unemployment rate is estimated over 40 per cent meaning most of the fresh graduates end up being engaged in non-wage earning occupation or no employment at all. The trend is repeating across Africa where out of the 37 per cent of youth making the working age, 60 per cent are unemployed.
As a growing economy, Kenya should think of a strategy to reverse the growing scenario. According to the blueprint Vision 2030, we are targeting to become a middle income country by 2030. This means more jobs should be created to equip the human resources with skills to beat the market competition, lead in innovations to sustain the development projects and come up with alternative drivers to economic growth.
Policy makers should modernise and make changes to the curriculum to equip youth with the skills needed in the job market. Organization are currently hesitating to employ the young people immediately after tertiary education because they lack experience. They are unable to match what is in the papers to the expectations of the company.
The government, through the Public service commission has announced they will no longer employ fresh graduates and entry level staff on permanent and pensionable terms but rather on 3- year renewable contracts. The announcement should too worry the young people because the chances of securing a job with the government have grown thinner than before.
The solution to save the dying young generation could come from agriculture, due to its size, growth potential, high labour requirement and low level of skill required. Instead of watching many Africans, and mostly youth, lose lives as they try to cross illegally to develop countries, we should change our tact to fully exploit the green economy and the potential in the soil. It is a sector that can absorb most of the unemployed youths, both the semi-skilled and the literate.
However, there is need for paradigm shift of the existing perceptions about agriculture and make it a profitable business worth creating thousands of jobs.
While agriculture is a major employer, smallholders are stuck in a cycle of poverty, as they do not have the economies of scale to be profitable commercial farmers. Low harvests due to poor farming methods scares away most youth from venturing in agriculture. It is regarded as a dirty job and has been left for the locals and mostly women.
There is however a need to invest in the sector and create sustainable ways to create opportunities that attract and make farming friendly to the youth.
Common challenges include lack of financial credit services to farmers, no direct access to the market and poor application of agricultural technologies.
There is an existing knowledge gap leading to low usage of machines to improve agricultural productivity which can be solved if the youth use their IT skills in agriculture.
On top of making the work easier in the field, machines are effective thus lead to increase of the farm produce. They will encourage to make long-term commitments in the farm and sustain their lives.
Farmers forgo the use of agricultural machinery and equipment because they come with high initial capital. Some of them are used during farming season only and are rendered idle during the rest of the year.
Lack of knowledge on the usage of the machines is also a reason why farmers scare away from the equipment.
There is an option of renting or leasing only the necessary machines, use them during the hour of need and returning them to the renter after use. This is a relieve to the youth who mostly lack the starting capital and do not have large human labour to help them in the field. Machines perform a couple of tasks at the same time, saving time and money.
For instance, a maize planter can plough, chisel, and release the seeds at the set intervals simultaneously with fertiliser and pesticides.
There are Agricultural extension firms across the country which are leading in efforts of agricultural revolution through availing machinery and services. Farmers need to come together to form a group then order for a tractor which is delivered at their convenient place.
Further, most of these agricultural stores offers training to empower farmers on the best agricultural practises to improve the quantity and quality of their farm produce.
The Kenyan youth should grab the trainings and support as a golden opportunity. There is a lot of unexploited potential in the firm which needs to be harnessed by all means humanly possible.
To feed the ever growing Kenyan population and reduce poverty, we need to tap the synergy with the youth through application of technology and machines in agriculture.