Pursue farming as a career? No! I’m young, getting a job or degree is my top priority...

Thursday January 16 2020

Women pick tea at a farm in Tharaka-Nithi County on October 12, 2019. Many young people do not find farming attractive and don’t view it as an opportunity for employment. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


What a strange January this is, dressing warmly is a necessity and forgetting your umbrella would completely ruin an entire day. This is not something one would expect at this time of year.

All over the world there have been out of the ordinary happenings in the weather front.

The fires in Australia that started in September, with smoke so massive that it can be seen in Chile and Argentina. Worms that were in Ethiopia and now have spread to Tanzania. In Kenya, there is the locust invasion in Wajir, Marsabit and Mandera. Floods in Israel and sink holes appearing in the streets of Japan.

These sites are things that would appear in the Bible, like the plagues of Moses times, hence religious fanatics at the moment are boldly proclaiming that this is the end times. We are already hearing of wars and rumours of war.

The rains have been unusual and many residents in Kisumu, Kenya, spent their Christmas Day trying to remain afloat as the rains continued throughout the day, hundreds of residents were displaced on Christmas eve.

The most daring of drivers on this day were indoors not willing for an adventure and silently pleading for the rains to come to a halt.


Our Christmas holiday in the countryside was cut short because we were afraid to get trapped in the village. It had rained all night, and the next morning it was still raining.

We were genuinely worried about how we were going to navigate. The rain makes it too difficult to move around, so most people just remain in their homes and wait for the downpour to die down.

There are areas in this country that one goes for kilometres before seeing a paved road. And when it rains, these roads are impassable.

Streams appear and cut through the car-made paths and the deep red soil swallows everything that moves upon it. Vehicles would not be able to pass, even those that boast of being able to traverse on any terrain. 

A recent research conducted by Jiactivate, whose findings are contained in The State of the Youth Report, highlighted how unemployment, lack of access to healthcare, corruption and food insecurity were affecting young people in the country.

Agriculture is important to 80 per cent of young people in rural areas who depend on it. Additionally, agriculture is such an important sector to our economy, it remains the largest employer in the country. The sector is the second foreign exchange earner.

However, we have a flood of young people rushing to get degrees and diplomas at a time when there is no employment in the formal sector. Some of the youth would rather travel to urban areas in search of work.

Many young people do not find farming attractive and don’t view it as an opportunity for employment. Farming should be promoted and heavily invested in.

However, we have failing factories and our farmers are burdened with mismanagement.

Because we are so reliant on the agricultural sector, any changes we make in the sector has an impact on the economy.

Due to the recent weather patterns, farmers were unable to harvest due to the rains. That means that plenty of crop has been lost or wasted. That means that the cost of food will go up due to scarcity.

A man ahead of his time was Burkina Faso’s former president, Thomas Sankara. When he was in power, one of the things that he encouraged and emphasised on was economic sustainability.

His domestic policies were focused on preventing famine with agrarian self-sufficiency. Sankara encouraged families to plant their food, he also prioritised land reforms, education with a nationwide literacy campaign and promoted public health.

He pushed for the planting of 10,000,000 trees at a time when people did not understand climate change. He understood the dire consequences of desertification.

Sankara supported women in leadership, housing and even called on community members to build schools, medical dispensaries, and encouraged self sustainability as a nation.

Nerima Wako-Ojiwa is executive director of Siasa Place. Twitter: @NerimaW