Hotels demand for tomatoes more than triple young farmers’ incomes

A decision by a group of young men to dump their small businesses that used to earn them at least Sh500 each a day and delve into tomato farming is finally paying off now seeing them earn Sh2700 each daily on growing demand for their produce by major hotels.

Members of the Young Fathers Group Majembeni, a small village in Mpeketoni, Lamu County once looked down on agriculture even as they continued recording average earnings from their small businesses like welding, shoe shinning and running of kiosks.

On an ordinary day, three years ago they would earn Sh500 which was not enough to take care of their household expectations. With new attitudes and skills, this is no longer the case, especially for the Young Fathers Group from Majembeni Youth Bunge.

“We had to feed our families, buy school uniforms, pay for school allowances above our personal needs. It was very difficult for us.” says Elijah Muremi, chairman of the Young Fathers Group. The young fathers consulted with their bunge board members on how to meet their parental responsibilities.

With support from USAID’s Yes Youth Can program, bunge members had previously received training on how to practice sustainable agriculture, and were well-positioned to teach and practice commercial farming. They helped the young fathers establish their own group to increase incomes.

Today, nearly three years later, the young fathers have improved their livelihoods and also transformed their community. The young men plant maize that they sell at both local markets and large-scale granaries. Their profits have enabled them open a tailoring business and also venture into tomato farming. The group also inspired women in their bunge who have started a young mothers group to practice commercial farming.

“We are a transformed community. The mindset among youth about farming has changed and the majority are now commercial farmers. Our children don’t miss school for lack of funds, and we enjoy a balanced meal every day since we are able to purchase other types foods,” said Elijah.

On average the cumulative sale of their produce earns  a farmer upto Sh2700 in a day as demand expands to hotels, and schools from the traditional markets.

The Majembeni young fathers youth bunge is one of the 20,000 bunges nationally that is improving livelihoods of thousands of youth. USAID/Kenya’s Yes Youth Can program supports the empowerment of Kenyan youth as envisioned in the 2010 constitution.

Young people organize themselves in youth-run and youth-led bunges (parliaments). The bunges provide a structure and a forum for young women and men to mobilize and take action to improve their own lives and those of their neighbours.