Despite its economic growth, Kenya continues to grapple with widespread food insecurity. The 2018 Global Hunger Index ranked the country 77th out of 119 nations, highlighting inefficiencies in food systems and distribution. In this context, the innovative practice of hydroponic agriculture emerges as a revolutionary solution.
Sekenani’s Agricultural Innovation
At the heart of this agricultural innovation lies Sekenani, a rural town on the outskirts of the Masai Mara National Reserve. Here, a dynamic group of nine young former students from Nairobi’s Strathmore University, supported by Harambee, has established a hydroponic farm with the goal of addressing malnutrition and youth unemployment. The area, marked by a 90% youth unemployment rate, experiences severe drought, annual livestock losses, and high levels of malnutrition.
A Community-Centric Venture
The farm, born from the initiative of these visionary youths, aims to be a beacon of hope for Sekenani and surrounding communities. Its community-based organization is crucial for directly engaging and benefiting the local population. The mission is twofold: to provide fresh vegetables to the community and create job opportunities for the youth.
Soilless Cultivation, Nourishing with Heart
Hydroponic agriculture is the key to this revolution. This innovative method allows plant cultivation without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. In an area facing decreasing arable land and growing demand for freshwater, hydroponics emerges as a sustainable solution.
The farm aspires to be a catalyst for the social and economic transformation of the region. In addition to supplying fresh vegetables to the local community, the farm reaches out to tourism operators in the Masai Mara Reserve and retail activities in Narok. Direct farm-to-table sales not only ensure more favorable prices for consumers but also establish a direct connection between producers and consumers.
Training and Research for a Sustainable Future
The farm’s commitment goes beyond food production. It focuses on training young people in agriculture and researching eco-friendly solutions. This forward-thinking approach not only shapes the next generation of farmers but also contributes to the development of environmentally friendly farming practices.
Ben Ngotiek, a member of Sekenani’s youth group, attests to the inspiration gained from participating in idea workshops.
“The workshops inspired me to volunteer to write a funding proposal through Strathmore. When we succeeded, I decided to take on the role of team leader. The experience was transformative.”
His dedication in proposing and securing funding, followed by assuming the role of team leader, serves as an example of how individual enthusiasm can lead to a positive collective impact.
Conclusion: A Promise of Prosperity
The establishment of a hydroponic farm in Sekenani represents a promise of prosperity for a community facing significant challenges. Through hydroponic agriculture, the region can address hunger, youth unemployment, and contribute to a sustainable future. Sekenani’s example is a beacon of hope, lighting the way for an agricultural revolution to extend to many other areas of Kenya.
Supporting Young Entrepreneurs in Africa: A Call for Investment
In Africa, approximately 60% of the population is under 25, making it the continent with the world’s highest number of startups. According to a recent World Bank survey, 78% of young people aged 18 to 24 intend to start their own businesses within 5 years.
In 2019, Harambee Africa International initiated a specific action line aimed at supporting local young entrepreneurs willing to start new businesses capable of generating income and employment, with a particular focus on sustainability.
With this goal in mind, partnerships were established with some excellent universities in Kenya, Nigeria, and Ivory Coast that cultivate business incubators, ensuring appropriate skills and guidance for accessing the necessary funding. Entrepreneurial initiatives proposed by the involved universities are selected, and through fundraising, their development is supported.
Investing in the entrepreneurial capacities of young people means allowing them to unleash their energy, ingenuity, and desire to contribute to the well-being of their families and the country.
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