Affordable farming ventures for young starters

Staying true to our mission of getting more young people interested in farming, this post will look at some types of farming that a cash-strapped young person can undertake and build a career out of. These farming ventures will consider both urban and rural youth because, like in other developing countries, Kenya still grapples with rural-urban migration in search of employment opportunities.

  • Poultry farming. This type of farming is considered the most successful in Kenya in terms of return and it’s true. Kenya is known for a very high consumption of chicken meat and farmers can barely meet the demand. This is a good place to begin even with a paltry 30,000 Kes. You can get an affordable poultry eggs incubator at 15,000 Kes and use the rest to set up. You can then sell chicks to poultry farmers. With one successful batch you can break even. An incubator will not take much space hence can also be done in urban areas. 
  • Affordable greenhouse farming. Many people assume that greenhouse farming requires a lot of capital, this is not the case. One can get a greenhouse for as low as 50,000 Kes and decide to do tomatoes, capsicum, cucumber or strawberries. You can also build one using locally available materials and the results wont be far away from the expensive ones. This is best done in rural areas where materials can be acquired cheaply.
  • Livestock farming. Many urban youth consider livestock farming very labour-intensive, and for good reason. You need substantial land to keep cattle, goats and sheep thus suitable for rural youth. The secret for earning a lot of money from this is traveling to Northern Kenya and buying goats and sheep for prices as low as 1000 Kes and transporting them to wherever you are. Imagine how much a full sheep would be in Nairobi or Kisumu! All you need is transport permit for livestock.DSC_8289
  • Leasing land. For young people in urban areas who would like to do farming and are curtailed by land issues, good news, leasing land in places like Olkalou, Narok and Nanyuki is very possible and affordable. For an acre you can pay as low as 3,000 Kes for the whole year, which, for some crops like potatoes, will be three seasons. Leasing land for maize in Kitale, Wheat in Narok and Sugarcane is South Nyanza is all doable and profitable. 
  • Urban farming. This type of farming is becoming more popular because it can be done in very little space, as little as 2ft by 2ft. Here, vegetables are planted in bags or tins that are mounted vertically on poles. A 2 meter pole can give you 16 plants therefore having 10 or more poles will provide you with a profitable garden right in your backyard. Remember to grow popular vegetables in your area, for example, Nairobi has developed a very healthy penchant for indigenous veggies (Mchicha, kunde, managu).

There are many affordable types of farming and agribusinesses that I have left out and I will be happy to answer any questions you might have. Kindly get in touch. 

Remember, if you had a meal today, thank a farmer.

How a young person can raise money for agribusiness

The biggest hurdle for those interested in starting an agribusiness is that of capital, as mentioned in my previous post. Just like any other business with handsome returns, farming will need – above passion and information – capital. Fundamental resources here include land/space and money. Young people may not be well equipped to handle this challenge thus prompting them to give up on their farming dreams even before beginning. Below are ways a young person can put together capital to go into farming.

i) Savings. The urban lifestyle in Kenya has convinced the youth that they don’t have money, save for that 4,000 Shillings they spend every weekend to party. For youth seriously interested in farming, saving this money for 3 weeks will be enough capital to set up some small-scale types of farming. Students in colleges and universities receive allowances from their parents, those who receive HELB loans are even better placed to invest this money and reap the benefits when they graduate. Sadly many students prefer to buy the latest gadgets and indulge in weekly (or daily) drinking escapades.

ii) Youth Fund/Uwezo Fund. The government recently launched specials financial programmes aimed at empowering young people interested in entrepreneurship. Farming currently ranks very high among the most rewarding enterprises in Kenya, Africa and beyond because it solves a myriad of problems (food security, unemployment, poverty). Young farming enthusiasts therefore have a real opportunity to apply for these funds in order to do serious agribusiness. Visit these links to learn more: Youth Fund and Uwezo Fund.
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iii) Loans/Agricultural Financing. The are several financial loans by banks and corporations specially tailored to meet farmers’ needs. Entities like Agricultural Finance Corporation, Equity’s Kilimo Biashara Loans and Chase Bank’s Rafiki DTM Loans provide very reasonable rates that would benefit farmers. Exploring these options behooves young farmers who, for instance, from a single season of greenhouse tomato farming, could pay off the loans and still make some profit. The secret here is to research and determine the bank/corporation that provides the best service. 

iv) Crowd Funding. This phenomenon, mostly done via the internet, is changing lives all over the world. It involves pitching your business idea on the crowd funding platforms/websites and then people contribute depending on how appealing your idea is. Some of these websites are Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe. To date, Kickstarter has funded over 135,000 projects worth over $1 billion. In Kenya, M-Changa offers this service and young people falling short of capital to go into farming can take advantage to raise money.

v) Money-making. A proper agribusiness venture requires substantial amount of capital. This can be discouraging to that young student who has a “meager” 10,000 Shillings. There are businesses with high returns that can grow this 10,000 to 50,000  in a span of 3 months. For instance, the business of cereals (maize, beans, rice) in Kenya is highly rewarding but not really understood by young people. During the harvest season, the price of a 90kg bag of maize can be as low as 1,500  and three months later when shortage bites, the price can go up to 5000. The old adage “Money begets money” becomes your mantra here.

The next post will cover different types of farming and how much a young person would need to invest in them.

5 things a young person should consider before going into farming

Lucrativeness of farming has been sold to the masses in Kenya, so much that everyone, young and old, rich and poor, men and women are trooping towards it, in many cases blindly. This interest in farming is a good sign, but the concerns of what really drives young people towards farming remain. Below are 5 things to put in place before going all out on agriculture in order to reap the much mentioned success in the sector.

1. Information/knowledge. How much knowledge about farming do you possess. Like any other profession, farming requires expertise, in fact it requires a great deal of expertise because of the dynamic aspects of agriculture. Information such as weather patterns, what crop to farm and the market, are very important. If you are truly keen on going into farming, roll up your sleeves and learn first.

2. Passion. How much do you want to farm? What motivates you to become a farmer. Many young people are lured into the trade with the glossy stories of success in the media without acknowledging the potentially disastrous risks involved. If you are not so much into it, the returns wont be too much into you either.

3. Capital. Young people interested in farming encounter their first hurdle in terms of capital. This is normal. Remedy for this can be found in the many agricultural support loans being given out by organizations, banks and even the government. The most important thing is the information on how to access these financial services. I will provide information on these loans and grants for farmers in my next post.

4. Total Commitment. There is a new crop of young farmers who engage in farming “via proxy” or mobile phone farming if you will. This does not work at all. Even if you have a good farm manager, there a number of things that will go wrong without your actual presence. For greater rewards in farming, you need to be on site. As a result, urban farming is taking root in the cities.

5. Persistence. You are more likely to be disappointed by your farm in the beginning. This is called the learning period and giving up should not be an option. Wrap the failures under the folder of experience and use it to become better. It is important to expect misfortunes and be ready for them. Just remember to keep on.

With these points considered, you can now decide to roll out your dream.

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Young farmers preparing a farm for vegetables