The Canadian Minister for International Development, Ahmed Hussen, has applauded Kirinyaga County administration for its efforts in promoting youth agri-preneurship in the region. The minister who visited projects by youth groups said that the County Government of Kirinyaga had done a great job in taking up modern agricultural techniques and supporting young people to embrace agriculture as a career option for economic development. 'I am grateful for the opportunity to come and see how young people are embracing agriculture as a path for career option for economic development and I commend Kirinyaga County Government in partnership with other players for their initiative in leveraging agriculture as a source of economic prosperity and development for the community,' added Hussen. He was accompanied by the Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya Mr Christopher Thornley, UNICEF- Generation Unlimited CEO Kevin Frey and Sriram Bharatam, KUZA CEO. The Minister said that the initiative by the county government aligns with Canada's international assistance policy that focuses on youth and women empowerment. 'There is absolutely great potential for partnership in Kirinyaga and one of my priorities as the new Minister for International Development is on how we can better use our development dollars to encourage and support economic empowerment and development in the developing countries with agriculture being central to that,' said Hussen, The minister interacted with the county youth agri-preneurs as they showcased what they have achieved through integration of digital technology in agriculture to increase production, provide extension services to farmers as well as create market linkages for themselves and other farmers. He termed the e-agriculture program being run through collaboration of the County Government and other partners as an inspiration and the future of agriculture. Kirinyaga Deputy Governor, David Githanda, who accompanied the delegation during the field visit, said that the County Government has been running a Disruptive Agricultural Technology initiative that promotes the use of digital technology in agriculture to increase production and profitability. Githanda said that so far, 200 groups involving 4,000 farmers have been connected to agricultural digital solutions through KUZA Biashara innovation program. Through this initiative, he said, farmers are able to access agriculture extension services, business incubation opportunities, market linkages and subsidized soil testing services and financial literacy. He added the program also targeted to establish 80 demonstration farms in public schools across the county with each ward having four farms, one being a center of excellence. This effort, he noted, aimed to inculcate the value of agricultural production to students as well as creating a teaching model for surrounding community of smallholder farmers to learn good agricultural practices that can be replicated in their individual farms. He encouraged young people to change their mindset on Agriculture and see it as an income-generating venture that can uplift their living standards. James Mbogo, the Chairman of the Mwihotori Youth Group in Kerugoya and one of the beneficiaries of the county's disruptive technology agriculture said that he is now able to operate his agribusiness in a more professional manner. His group is growing tomatoes in a greenhouse which was constructed for them by the county government. Mbogo noted that before the county government intervened, members were using traditional agricultural practices that were not only expensive but did not guarantee returns on their investment.
Source: Kenya News Agency