One of the key factors for rural development is the sustainability of its farmers. Countries whose farmers have invested in education and technological knowhow have progressed at a much faster pace and as a result have grown economically stronger and sustainable. Having had the experience of working with rural/ farming communities across two continents – Asia and Africa, I can say with confidence that farmers in Africa, especially in Kenya are more conscious of improving their lot. In my extensive interactions with coffee farmers across central Kenya, ranging from small to medium sized farmers, all had one thing in common; all of them are educating their children. No doubt that there is strict implementation of Universal Primary Education across Kenya, which helps in ensuring that children acquire basic schooling. But when a struggling farmer proudly tells you that his daughter is studying in the Nairobi university for a degree in Agriculture sciences, you know that it requires a higher level of consciousness and vision. This reflects the hope of a nation that sees value in equipping its future generations with skills that will ensure a sustainable source of income generation.
Sustainability has many facets which play an equally important role in making our planet a better place to live in!
By: Unjela Kaleem
Thank you for posting my blog here. I am honoured to be a part of such a prestigious forum.
Education is, of course, vital for all forms of progress. It is good to see that education is helping farmers to become more aware of the world around them. One irony, however, is that as young propel become more educated, so their ambitions increase and not all will want to remain in agriculture – international experience shows also that many ambitious young people feel their future is more bright in urban areas where income potential is greater – even if living conditions may be less comfortable. As agricultural productivity increases through greater efficiency and technology, hopefully this will not be a problem. The key is how to ensure that small and medium sized farms remain in the ownership of the local farmers and not major national or international corporations.
Thanks Geoff for your valuable comments. Indeed, it is true that there is a decreasing trend amongst youth to take up farming as a profession specifically when they acquire post high school education. However, in some of the cases in Kenya, a number of farmers’ children are pursuing farming as a side business to supplement their total income. Also, they are more open to bringing in modern technology and see farming more as a business enterprise. And in some cases, they are making use of the farm earning for setting up their own small businesses and acquiring modern gadgets. I guess one way of keeping the ownership within farming households is to enhance capacity of farmers which helps them increase yield – which will bring in more earnings and will hence make farming more attractive to them.