Agricultural Markets

Kenyan youths dumping farming for bodaboda, warns don

Easy money in the bodaboda sub-sector is luring youths away from farming, a researcher has warned.

Easy money in the bodaboda sub-sector is luring youths away from farming, a researcher has warned.

Speaking at a conference on promoting agriculture, climate and trade linkages in the East African Community organized by Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) in Nairobi, Dr. Gloria Otieno – an independent development economist – said young Kenyans are increasingly washing their hands off farming.

“Here we are, aiming to build capacities of various East African stakeholders for climate-aware, trade-driven and food security-enhancing agro-processing in the region, yet a key constituency – our young people – would rather ride a bodaboda for Kshs. 500 per day, instead of painstakingly working on a long-term harvest,” she said.

She told the conference, bringing together stakeholders from the government, business community, civil society, media, academia, and farming communities, as well as representatives of regional and international organizations, that Kenyan youths were simply not interested.

“They simply don’t want to do it. Now you have some of them, with a minimum of eight acres, telling you that they either ride bodabodas or seek your financial support towards election as ward representatives,” she said.

Lack of technical and financial capacity, she added, is further limiting their engagement in agro-processing.

“The Youth Fund could have been a key instrument for engaging youth in agriculture and agro-processing, but it has been administered wrongly. Instead of investing in industries that create employment for youths and building their capacity through polytechnics and vocational training, the Fund gives them cash directly which they then spend on things like bodabodas,” she observed.

Adequate space and programs to engage youth in technological innovations that can drive mechanized agriculture, she noted, could aid the public in assessing current national and county government policies, so as to identify how youths could be interested in farming.

“We are losing youthful labour in rural farming at an alarming rate. Our elderly parents are now turning to herbicides to combat weeds, significantly disrupting the ecosystem,” she said.

Mrs. Rose Kagondu, a farmer from the Shauri Vision Women Group in Nyandarua County, told the conference that trade policies should ensure the availability of inputs despite climate change and markets for processed products.

“We also need access to cleaner technologies. Climate change policies should support this effort through targeted adaptation and mitigation initiatives,” she said.

Until 2019, CUTS will bring together, inform, train and move to advocacy action hundreds of stakeholders for more climate-aware, trade-driven and food security-enhancing agro-processing in East Africa.