Kenyan farmer David Mwenda wants to “shape the conversation” about the future of African agriculture.
The 29-year-old African leader believes“the future of agriculture lies in the hands of youth.” To support his conviction, he created Foundation for Young Farmers, a blog that in July won the Youth in Agriculture prize at the Fin4Ag International Conference in Nairobi. With the theme of “revolutionising finance for agri-value chains,” the conference brought together investors and people with ideas for ways to boost agricultural production and improve food processing and distribution.
In his blog and on Twitter, Mwenda, a YALI Network member, is building an online community of youth who value agriculture as a viable and needed profession. With an active online presence, he coaches his audience about the benefits of sustainable farming practices like mixed farming — or growing crops along with raising livestock — and methods that conserve water like no-till farming.
“We try to change their current practices into agribusiness and to create a source of income and employment,” he says.
Mwenda wants his blog to provide information to help link farmers to markets, teach them to keep accurate farm records and to handle food properly, and encourage organizations to come together to provide young farmers with equipment like tractors.
On his two hectares, Mwenda raises dairy cows, sheep, rabbits, chickens and bees and grows a variety of vegetables. He wants his farm to eventually be a “one-stop demo farm” for youth to visit and see modern sustainable agriculture practices.
He reminds YALI Network members considering a future in agriculture that “the most important trait for success is perseverance. “Bigger rewards will ultimately be,” he says to his readers, many of whom were raised on subsistence agriculture. “Agriculture can be a gold mine for young entrepreneurs.”
Mwenda’s blog has become a platform for young Africans engaged in agriculture to discuss their shared problems and to look for solutions. The blogger responds to readers’ comments and uses their comments as starting points for additional entries.
Among the comments the blog has received are:
“Young people are starting to gain interest in agriculture. They, however, need a platform where they can share their stories, be encouraged and given opportunity to learn. I support this blog because it is showing and highlighting these experiences.”
“We all need food for our survival and therefore young farmers and agriculturalists play a major role in making sure demand for food is met on [a] daily basis. …This can be achieved through blogs, forums involving local people and farm exhibitions.”
“Agriculture is widely viewed [as] an occupation for the elderly or retired in rural areas. This idea has to change.”
“We are still at the first stage of changing minds. … The youth will embrace this.”
Read Mwenda’s blog Foundation for Young Farmers to learn more about why agriculture is a smart career choice or join the conversation to discuss ideas and solutions you may be looking for in your agribusiness.