Charlene Ruto, the daughter of President William Ruto, and Murang’a’s Deputy Governor Stephen Munania on Thursday, March 30, held a Crop Establishment Training to mobilize the youth in Murang’a to embrace coffee farming, at Ikundu farm, Maragua constituency.
Ikundu farm is one of the two demonstration coffee farms located in Murang’a County where Charlene and the Deputy Governor volunteered to be patrons highlighting the significance of young people in coffee farming.
The two young leaders are both well suited for the role, with Charlene and Munania both 30 years of age and Munania happening to be the youngest ever elected deputy governor.
“The innovations that we do require take our agriculture and our coffee to the next level in terms of production, in terms of processing and efficiency, processing requires the youthful energy of our young people, requires the knowledge that comes with good education, which our young people have been given by their parents across Murang’a,
“It also requires the energy of the government and so therefore here today we want to incorporate these things and as a county, we have a framework of how to want to establish this, we have established what is called a youth-led programme,” Munania told Switch Media.
The region has over 104,345 small-scale farmers participating in the coffee enterprise, which covers 15,915 ha under coffee cultivation. Notably, the annual county production dropped from 100,051 MT of cherry in 1997 to 25,200 MT in 2019, which reflects a 75% drop in production.
“We established coffee as one of the areas where we need to support since young people are rarely found in coffee. We want to ensure that our cash crops are getting the best prices and best production and this effort has been put into the coffee subsector by His Excellency Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.” Munania added.
The youth enterprise program is supported by Muranga county Governor Dr Francis Irungu Kang’ata and has partnered with various coffee agencies including banks, to educate and fund the community on value addition to the crop widely grown in the region.
With the initiative to empower the youth, Murang’a County aims to support farmers in establishing certified seedbeds, crop productivity, blending, grading, and marketing of coffee.
“We want to ensure that here in Muranga when you’re talking about the coffee value change we are supporting the farmer from the ground level. This is in the establishment of the certified seedbeds crop productivity in the crop establishment as we are doing here, we also want to ensure that other value chains with coffee that include blending, grading and other areas,
“We also want to move towards marketing our coffee. And we want our youth to be very keen as we introduce them to this value chain to be able to see the opportunities that lie in coffee because their future employment will come through agriculture, the next millionaires and billionaires are going to be made through agriculture,” the Murang’a Deputy Governor observed.
Charlene Ruto, an avid advocate for youth empowerment in the country, echoed Munania’s sentiments, calling on the youth to get into farming to earn income and create opportunities for themselves.
“Mine is to encourage young people. We’ve been here on the farm today. We came to plant the coffee after we did a site visit about a month ago. We thank God that the rains have come and are coming, but still, we need to have different methods that we use within our farm. So we’ll also be installing our drip irrigation system here and want to encourage the young people across Kenya to come and view how we are doing the system of farming here,
“I think as young people, once we get into farming, whether it’s coffee farming, whether it’s maize, whatever form of farming that we are doing, whether it’s soya beans, whatever it is that we are doing, we can get an income for ourselves. And as the deputy governor has said, that’s where the next millionaires and next billionaires sit.” Charlene Ruto said.
Agriculture is the main economic activity in Murang’a County. The county government has therefore established various programmes to support sustainable agriculture in the county. The government’s main focus is to empower farmers to shift from traditional subsistence farming to more modern and profitable agribusiness.
As young people make up nearly 35% of Kenya’s population, they have a vital role to play in sustainable agriculture and the shift from traditional subsistence farming to modern and profitable agribusiness. Through farming, youth can acquire the discipline and self-drive required to become successful and create wealth independently.
Charlene touched on the high rate of unemployment in the country explaining how farming would equip the youth of Kenya, instilling in them the discipline and self-drive required to become successful and create wealth independently.
“Many young people reach out to me. They finished college. They’re looking for a job. Those jobs are not there, unfortunately. We need to start creating our sources of income, and our employment. And I think once we are into farming, farming teaches us discipline. The coffee tree takes quite a while to grow before we get the cherries from it,
“Coffee teaches discipline. It teaches us to be patient. We can learn different values in life. So I think this is a very good project. We’ve started with DG and we’ll keep expanding it and bring it to young people.” Charlene Ruto observed.
The Kenya coffee industry is targeting the U.S. market, as coffee consumption in the States is growing at 6% in revenue and 4% in volume. (Kenya Coffee Traders Association). There is potential to make an improvement in coffee facilities in Kenya with efforts seeking to bring stability into the market to improve returns from Coffee.