Government mulls agribusiness course in schools

Public schools in the country will by 2015 be expected to inculcate agribusiness in their curriculum, as government moves to shift dominant perception of agriculture as an old man's job, counting on youth to actively engage in agriculture which is among the pillars touted to help Kenya achieve the ambitious Vision 2030 dream.

According to a government report on entrepreneurship, innovation and technology transfer, the drive will be implemented in two phases, with the immediate one which will happen next year targeted at Polytechnics and later to be followed closely in the formal education sector.

“In a bid to inculcate a culture of farming among our youths, we have deemed it good that we recruit them into agriculture studies to compliment the technical courses that are taught,” read part of the report.
Under the public schools programme, there will be both theoretical and practical approach with demonstration plots being established in all schools. This will enable the schools to cut down on expenses used in buying food, with the surplus being sold in the market. This will cultivate in the students a spirit of entrepreneurship while demonstrating to students that there is money in agribusiness.

To monitor the progress of the projects, the government has established the Centre for Entrepreneurship Innovation and Technology Transfer (CEITT). “This will be a key force in supporting, promoting and developing entrepreneurship in Kenya,” the report further says. About 1,000 greenhouses will be put in youth polytechnics in the next one year with an extra 210 model greenhouses being put up in all constituencies through devolved funds.The beneficiaries will grow horticultural crops and the government will coordinate marketing through the ministries of Youth, Cooperatives and Industrialisation.

A key partner in the initiative is Amiran Kenya, which has aggressively carried out and recruited Facebook farmers across the country, a term coined to refer to modern and smart farming by young people. A similar initiative started by a regional NGO involving school breakfast clubs and kitchen gardens as a means of cultivating a culture of farming as a business from a tender age has returned impressive results with the children now managing to pay their school fees from the kitchen gardens in the schools.

Scott Ngure is a class 6 pupil at St Perpetua Primary School in Thika which is among the schools in the scheme. Aged 12 years, he is among the kids who now go to the Thika market to sell the surplus fruits he grows on a small piece of land in the school. Together with other fruits and vegetables, he makes Sh1200 on a good market day, which is enough to give some to his mother, who has no stable job and works as a casual labourer at a pineapple plantation.

The money is also providing some funds for his school upkeep, which has seen him buy basic requirements like his school shirts, as well as rubber shoes, as he is a passionate footballer.