A project that helps young adults in western Kenya set up agricultural enterprises has secured UK Aid Match – which means the UK government will match any donations made to the project.

The Growing Futures scheme has been created by charity Farm Africa to give young people the knowledge and skills to grow their businesses and income through farming. Kenya has the highest level of youth unemployment in eastern Africa.

Growing Futures is focused on developing horticultural expertise and building farmers’ links to profitable markets.

To date, Farm Africa has provided agriculture, business and marketing training to help 2,300 young men and women living in western Kenya grow and sell more. Currently, 400 young Kenyan farmers are learning foundation skills and techniques to build a sustainable horticultural business.

The farmers have also had training in financial management and writing business plans, giving them the springboard they need to borrow the capital required to grow and run their businesses. The current group’s first vegetables have been sold, achieving profit margins of 62% for cabbages and 50% for French beans.

Over the next two years, the farmers will receive further training and support in finding buyers, business development skills, post-harvest handling and good warehouse practices.

The project is also helping the farmers gain Global GAP certification, which they need to be able to export their vegetables. Exports are typically more lucrative than domestic markets.

“With our inclusive market engagement focus, we work with young people in rural Kitale by developing the horticultural and business skills they need to set up successful, profitable horticultural enterprises,” said Farm Africa project coordinator Mary Nyale.

Farm Africa is aiming to ramp up Growing Futures through UK donations. Between 14 October 2017 and 14 January 2018 all donations to the appeal will be doubled by the UK government through the Aid Match scheme. The charity is supported by William Reed Business Media.

Donations can be made online at www.farmafrica.org/GrowingFutures

Case study: Joseph Kaunda

One of the farmers taking part in the project is Joseph Kaunda, who has already used the income generated to invest in growing his business.

“The Growing Futures project trained me on how to improve productivity and now I am able to grow different grades of vegetables for different buyers,” he said. “This has been very beneficial. Through the sale of cabbages, I was able to buy a water pump and I am currently running my own vegetable production as a separate entrepreneur from the group.”

When Kaunda joined Growing Futures he was already growing cabbages. Farm Africa help him and his wife Micah improve productivity through proper crop management.

Before Kaunda started working with Farm Africa he struggled to find buyers for his produce, leaving his produce to go rotten. When he did find a buyer, they often offered him a very low price.

“When things rot I get very discouraged,” he said. “You spend a lot of money buying seedlings and tilling the farm, and you do the calculations on how much money you will make. When you do not do well it takes a while to get the capital to start again.”

Since Kaunda started working with Farm Africa he has seen a 65% increase in yields and profit.

“If I improve my farming I will buy a truck so I can get my products to the market and I can also take other farmers produce for sale”, he said.