Youths encouraged to embrace self-employment by strawberry farming

        

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Strawberry fruits.Strawberry farming has become increasingly popular in the recent past in Kenyan rural and peri-urban areas. 


Mitahato Education and Development Fund (MEDF), a dedicated organization to nurture the roots of change in rural Kenya is assisting the youths through training and financial support to grow and produce strawberry fruits for sell as a source of income even as unemployment among the group remains a big challenge.


MEDF has for the last two years supported over 40 youths to start strawberry farming which is a new venture in Ngewa, Githunguri, Kiambu County. This cost the organization about half a million.


“At the beginning we found strawberry farming idea difficult to sell among the youths given it was going to be a new crop in the area, but given our market research and support, we have seen more youths come on board,” said said Michael Kaburu, MEDF extension officer.


Currently MEDF promotes production of at least 20 varieties of horticultural crops and assesses the viability of their production and markets and evaluate their economic models in order to assist the youths make informed decisions in their agribusiness life.


“Fruits like strawberry have an insatiable market and a golden opportunity for the youth in Kenya for self-employment and livelihood improvement,” said Kaburu.


Strawberry farming has become increasingly popular in the recent past in Kenyan rural and peri-urban areas according to Agro-Environment Initiative, an agricultural organization which also encourage young energetic Kenyans who for a long time have been notably absent from agriculture activities.

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Agro-Environment Initiative further states that unemployment among the youth is rampant in Kenya as in many developing countries leading to increased poverty in the rural and urban areas alike yet 75% of Kenyan population is made up of young people below 30.


Strawberry fruit plant is a high value export crop which makes a multi-billion dollar business around the world. Strawberries are very juicy health-packed fruits which are eaten whole, in fruit salads, jam, milk shake and smoothie juice.


An equally lucrative market for the strawberry plant leaves which used to be discarded is emerging as a produce in demand. The leaves are being bought by decorating and florist firms in the major towns around the country.


This has caused the demand for the strawberry leaves, an important component of bouquets due to their beautiful shape and sweet scent.


Kaburu says that strawberries are easy to grow because they require little land and perform well in a wide range of temperatures ranging from mild to hot.


The most popular strawberry varieties grown in Kenya are Chandler and pajero.

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