High-level policy forum to explore youth employment opportunities in agribusiness

High-level policy forum to explore youth employment opportunities in agribusiness

The Centre for African Bio-entrepreneurship (CABE) on behalf of the Utafiti Sera Consortium convened a workshop to explore employment opportunities for youth in agribusiness along Kenya’s mango value chain.

The workshop which was held from 26th – 27th July 2021 brought together the projects’ funding organization Partnership for African Social & Governance Research (PASGR) and implementing partners CABE and Alternatives Africa, and representatives from National and County governments, the youth, and other stakeholders to further the use of evidence to inform youth employment policies.

Participants listen to Workshop proceedings

The workshop, held at Travellers Beach Hotel, Mombasa explored how the findings of a study conducted by the project can be domesticated to complement existing regulatory frameworks such as the Makueni County Development Action Plan and the Kenya youth agribusiness strategy.

This workshop will contribute to informed policymaking in agribusiness to increase youth employment in the agriculture sector.

Juicing for jobs: Improving mango processing for youth job creation

Juicing for jobs: Improving mango processing for youth job creation

Mango processing can create thousands of jobs for the youth in Kenya, potentially reducing the country’s youth unemployment rate of 7.27 percent (ILO, 2020). This statement is consistent with the findings of a study by the Centre for African Bio-Entrepreneurship (CABE) under the auspices of Utafiti Sera House III on Youth Employment Creation in Agribusiness and Agro-processing in Kenya. The urgent need for job opportunities along the mango value chain is timely in view of changing demographics and the increased number of Kenya’s health-conscious middle class.

The study, funded by the Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR), found that there are rising lifestyle changes in diet choices, demand for quality products, entertainment, eating, and spending habits.

Such changes can be seen for instance, in different urban and peri-urban eateries, supermarket shelves, and food markets which increasingly sell natural and processed juices. These lifestyle changes are projected to continue to drive the average growth in domestic demand for juice which the International Trade Centre reports (ITC, 2014) to be 49 percent per annum.     

Demand for quality juice

To effectively meet this increased demand for juice, Kenya imports U$5,395,000 worth of mango pulp annually, further threatening to stagnate the domestic mango industry. If the industry is to meet the demand for quality juice, there is need to trace quality back to the very bottom of the mango value chain – the farmers. A farmer can only produce quality fruits by planting quality varieties using and recommended agronomic practices. Once the variety and quality of mango seedling is right, there is need to use appropriate processing technology, but this also faces various challenges which need to be addressed.

The major stumbling blocks

The study, conducted between December 2017 and 2020 confirmed ITC’s statement that ‘’… [O]ver a long time, the Country [Kenya] has relied on the traditional fresh market domestically and internationally with little attention given to processed products.’’ Production and marketing of mangoes also face various challenges such as use of poor-quality planting material and production practices, weak agricultural extension, high post-harvest losses, weak linkages with industry policies, marketing deficiencies and lack of finance. Cumulatively, these challenges lead to inadequate quality and quantity of mangoes for processing, forcing Kenya to import mango pulp for processing mango juice. This not only contributes to unemployment in the mango value chain but also leads to loss of national income which could otherwise be channeled to the development agenda of the mango sector and beyond.

A youth in a nursery in Makueni County photo credit: PASGR/CABE Photographer

Based on findings of Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with the youth in Makueni and West Pokot Counties, the study revealed that there are job opportunities for the youth in an integrated services provision comprising of tree seedlings, extension, mango orchard expansion (new trees), augmentation (grafting varieties) and gradually replacing old orchards of table or fresh mango varieties with varieties suitable for processing as good starting point in dealing with these challenges. In addition, the study confirmed that mango processing offers a solution to the high post-harvest losses experienced in the main production areas, provides a market for the second-grade fruits and can potentially drive the much-needed reforms in the value chain.

Why mango processing?

Processing will increase availability and consumption of locally-produced mango juice, reduce post-harvest losses, increase efficiency in the value chain and employ the youth in input supply, spraying, packing, aggregating and marketing.

The ensuing effective and efficient mango value chain will strengthen linkages between farmers and processors. As a result, farmers will benefit from price incentives, market and product diversification. In addition, most farmersin Kenya already recognize thatNgowe’ mango variety is suitable for processing. As a result, cultivation of this variety offers potential for Kenya to undergo import substitution and source locally the required amount of mango juice. The subsequent benefits such as high quality and safety standardswill increase thescale and quality of mangoes produced. This could also create export opportunity for Kenya in regional markets such as Sudan, which currently imports mango juice from India (ITC, 2014)

What do we stand to lose if we do not process mangoes?

The magnitude of this question can be felt more now that we are in the peak of May-August mango season. During such seasons, markets across the country experience surplus in supply of mangoes which come with prices as low as less than Ksh 10 per fruit. In addition, most farmers suffer high post-harvest losses since mangoes are highly perishable. On a bigger scale, the opportunity cost of foreign exchange earnings spent on mango imports for juicing is U$ 5,395,000 per annum. It is projected that effective and efficient mango value chain will create 3, 200,000 jobs per year.


Ultimately, processing will increase domestic demand for ‘Ngowe’ mango varieties. Increased demand, will increase the prices of the fruit and consequently increase income for farmers who will in turn seek quality mango varieties. The spill-over of activities will work to streamline the entire value chain by strengthening extension service delivery in terms of personnel, messaging coordination in the production, processing and marketing activities. This calls for a need to strengthen linkages with industrial policies (agro-processing), improve markets of fresh and processed mangoes including investments in establishing aggregation, cold storage and transport infrastructure as well as improving access to finance for youth entrepreneurs to create jobs for themselves and others along the different segments of the mango value chain in the country.


East African countries champion integrated rice sector development in the region to curb escalating imports

East African countries champion integrated rice sector development in the region to curb escalating imports

As rice becomes a strategic commodity in Africa, many countries in East Africa have embarked on various programs that, along with continental initiatives, aim to chart a course of action for moving the regional rice sector forward.

At the recently concluded East Africa Rice Conference (EARC) 2021, key players from Africa’s agri-food sector listed increased availability and access to quality inputs via harmonized regional policies and regulations, public-private partnerships support in value chain upgrading and regional trade in local rice, and strengthened regional and national platforms to promote policy coordination and investment as top regional priorities to champion an integrated rice sector development in the region. These, together with other coordinated actions, will contribute to accelerated agri-food sector transformation to address challenges facing food and nutrition security in the region.

Organized by the Africa Rice Center, the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa Programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium, the Centre for African Bio-Entrepreneurship, the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, with support from the UK Aid and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office of the United Kingdom, EARC 2021 featured prominent scientists, experts, and thought leaders to discuss local and regional challenges and present the range of opportunities for research and development in rice-based agri-food systems.

Rice is the fastest-growing food staple in Africa with its demand growing at more than 6 percent annually. Rice cultivation is the primary source of income for more than 35 million smallholder farmers in the continent. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited that in most countries in Sub-saharan Africa (SSA), rice transitioned from luxury and holiday food to a major staple food and growing source of calories, due to growing economies, increasing urbanization, rising household incomes, improvements in infrastructure, and greater market access.

In her keynote speech at EARC 2021, CARD Secretariat Director and AGRA President Dr. Agnes Kalibata emphasized, “Increasing the competitiveness of the East African rice industry is critical to taking advantage of the improving trade environment and the expansion of production capacity and markets that we see on the continent.”

Currently, the increasing demand is being supplied by imports since the demand outpaces the production capacity of the region’s rice sector. USDA projects that SSA imports will shoot up to 15.4 million tons by 2026. Meanwhile, according to Kilimo Trust’s 2014 report, 500 million USD per annum of rice imports is accounted for in the East Africa Common Market area. Rice demand in the East Africa Community exceeds supply by over 0.6 million metric tons per annum, a deficit supplied with imports mainly from Asian countries. This provides a tremendous opportunity for farmers in the region, especially for over 1.5 million farming households that depend directly on rice for their food and livelihoods.

“The potential for growth in SSA’s rice sector is enormous. If proper interventions are in place, this existing potential can enable the region to produce more than its needs for consumption, allowing it to become a net rice exporter,” said Dr. Abdelbagi Ismail, EARC 2021 Chair and IRRI Regional Representative for Africa.

To move this forward, the CARD initiative has facilitated the development of the second national rice development strategy (NRDS2) of CARD member countries. “CARD works with governments and development partners to respond to the increasing importance of rice production in Africa,” explains Dr. Yusuke Haneishi, General Coordinator, CARD Secretariat. NRDS and NRDS2 clearly outline strategies, priority areas for investment, and targets based on the goal and strategic objectives of each country considering the importance of the rice sector to address food security, improve livelihoods of those who depend on the rice sector, and boost the countries’ and region’s economy.

“In a year in which the UN holds its first food systems summit, East Africa should seize the moment to apply a systems approach to rice. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has made the need for self-sufficiency more critical, providing an urgent reminder of the value of resilient agri-food systems to defend against volatility in food prices and exports,” CGIAR Special Representative to the UN Food Systems Summit 2021 Dr. Kanayo Nwanze said in his message during the opening program of EARC 2021.

The conference kicked-off on 18 May with simultaneous country workshops on related themes in six East African countries—Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The virtual sessions were attended by more than 400 participants from across the globe between 19-20 May 2021.

The outcomes of the conference will be made available to relevant and interested stakeholders and will feed into the local and global agri-food systems transformation dialogues and recommendations in the lead up to the East African Regional Rice Strategy development and the United Nations Food Systems Summit.

About the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)

AfricaRice contributes to reducing poverty, achieving food and nutrition security and improving livelihoods of farmers in Africa by increasing the productivity and profitability of rice-based agri-food systems, while ensuring the sustainability of natural resources.

About the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium (APRA)

The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Programme pursues the most effective agricultural commercialization pathways to empower women, reduce rural poverty, and improve food and nutrition security in Sub-Saharan Africa through in-depth, interdisciplinary, and comparative research as part of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC).

About the Centre for African Bio-Entrepreneurship (CABE)

The Centre for African Bio-Entrepreneurship (CABE) works to enhance the skills of smallholder farmers, women, and youth entrepreneurs in Kenya to advance their meaningful participation in agriculture and agribusiness. CABE does this by focusing on agro-entrepreneurship, market linkages, business development, research, innovations, and policy process.

About the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD)

CARD, a consultative group of development partners and research institutes, works to support the efforts of African countries to formulate and implement their National Rice Development Strategies (NRDS), with a view to doubling rice production on the continent. CARD also recently started engaging five Regional Economic Communities in Africa in preparing Regional Rice Development Strategies to address issues that can be better handled at the regional level.

About the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

IRRI aims to improve livelihoods and nutrition, abolishing poverty, hunger, and malnutrition among those who depend on rice-based agri-food systems. In doing so, IRRI’s work protects the health of rice farmers and consumers, and the environmental sustainability of rice farming in a world challenged by climate change. IRRI’s work promotes the empowerment of women and supports opportunities for youth in an equitable agri-food system.

About the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

JICA’s cooperation in agricultural and rural development aims to ensure a stable food supply to people in both rural and urban areas and reduce poverty in rural communities — thereby driving economic development at national and regional levels. JICA as one of leading partners of the CARD Initiative supports the rice sector development in the continent.

About the UK Aid

UK Aid Direct works to reduce poverty in target countries by supporting civil society to improve contributions and mechanisms for sustained poverty reduction in marginalised and vulnerable communities.

About the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom

FCDO works to reduce poverty and tackle global challenges with its international partners.

Media contacts:

Sherwin Pineda

Senior Manager – Strategic Communications, IRRI

Email: s.pineda@irri.org

Brylle James Galang

Media and Social Media Relations Officer, IRRI

Email: b.galang@irri.org

Evelyn Otieno

Communications Officer, CABE

Tel. +254721226406

Email: evelyn@cabe-africa.org

Agro-pastoralist households urged to invest in pasture production

Agro-pastoralist households urged to invest in pasture production

Agro-pastoralist households living at Simailele village in Turkana County have been urged to utilize the 20-hectares of land set aside by the Drought Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods Program(DRSLP) to commercially invest in pasture production and generate income.

The CEC for Agriculture, Pastoral Economy and Fisheries Philip Ebei Aemun has also urged farmers to use available infrastructure to increase crop productivity not only for home consumption but also surplus for sale. Citing the Nariemeto Pasture Production Group in Songot that has progressed through the sale of pasture, Aemun called on farmers to consider venturing into it noting that the changing climatic conditions were increasingly becoming a threat, and therefore called for diversification of livelihoods.

He was speaking when he presided over the distribution of goats procured by Rural Livelihoods Adaptation to Climate Change component under DRSLP. The aim is to socially support 100 vulnerable households for community resilience due to adverse effects of climate change at Katilu Ward of Turkana South Sub-County. The Beneficiaries who received three goats each were drawn from Kalemngorok, Kangirega, Namakat, Nabeye and Simailele villages.

On Livestock disease surveillance and control, the CEC asked herders to get in touch with Veterinary officers saying the department was committed to providing a ready market where traders and Agro-pastoralist can sell their products.

The Drought Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods Project (DRSLP) activities aim at addressing the various impacts of climate change on rural livelihoods, by financing adaptation measures and associated services by leveraging on traditional knowledge of Agro-pastoral communities as well as sustainable technologies and practices. The project is being implemented by the National Government in partnership with the County Government through funding from GoK and African Development Bank.

There are plans to also restock for 375 families in Kapedo/Napeitom Ward who lost their animals to bandits. Similar programs have been lined up for other regions with the second phase which begins in July expected to target more households.

Source: Kilimo News

SIVAP Counties receive goodies

SIVAP Counties receive goodies

The Principal Secretary, State Department for Crop Development & Agricultural Research in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives Prof. Hamadi Boga today flagged off a consignment of seeds, seedlings, and other related inputs worth Kshs 12.75 million to be distributed to SIVAP counties.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives through the State Department for Crop Development and Agricultural Research is implementing the Small Scale Irrigation and Value Addition Programme (SIVAP) funded by a loan from Africa Development Bank (AfDB), a grant from the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP) and the Government of Kenya.

SIVAP is operating in 11 counties namely: Makueni, Kajiado, Machakos, Bomet, Tharaka Nithi, Meru, Nyeri, Tana River, Murang’a, Nyandarua and Kitui.

The current on-going SIVAP projects include 12 irrigation schemes, 38 water pans, 17 bore holes, 8 shallow wells and sand dams, 5 grading shades, 4 Livestock Sale Yards and Rehabilitation of 65 KMs of rural roads which are at various stages of completion.

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