Kenya could face food crisis if youths don’t take up farming
State, counties warn of a nightmare, as the average age of farmers is 60 against a life expectancy of 63. Sh20 billion to be used in the next five years for youth programmes
Kenya could face a food shortage nightmare in the near future if young people are not absorbed into the agriculture sector, the national and county governments have warned.
Agriculture CS Willy Bett and Council of Governors chairman Peter Munya yesterday said the two levels of government have to improve their coordination to help more youths to get into agriculture.
Currently, the average age of farmers in the country is 60 years, against a life expectancy of 63 years, projecting a grim future for food security. “Going by the average, it means farmers have only three years to feed the nation before retiring,” Bett said.
He spoke during the second intergovernmental forum on the agriculture sector at the Whitesands Hotel, Mombasa. He said, however, the government has come up with a policy that will encourage more youths to engage in agriculture.
“We have converted agriculture into a way of punishing children in schools. We have replaced caning with agriculture,” he said.
This, he noted, creates a negative attitude and apathy among the youth.
“The government has set aside some Sh20 billion to be disbursed over the next five years towards youth agricultural programmes. We want agripreneurs,” Bett said.
Munya, who was accompanied by more than 20 governors and deputy governors, said many constraints between the county and national governments undermine the development of the sector.
He said the national government still holds onto funds and some agricultural functions, yet they were devolved, a claim Bett denied, saying, “We don’t have any intention to hold onto any agricultural function.” But Munya insisted some parastatals have been created to perform roles that are the mandate of the counties. “We’ve a problem. The AFFA Act and the Crops Act are still a subject of court cases.”