Agriterra: lead by example

In Kenya, it’s difficult to earn a good income as a farmer. Young people especially are leaving agriculture to look for other ways of making a living. Agriterra, a Dutch farmers’ cooperative, helps farmers in Kenya to overcome the various challenges they face. The Youth Programme aims to make farming more attractive to a new generation. As Jackson Kiprono, a Kenyan veterinarian and dairy farmer says: ‘You need to lead by showing the right example.’

People look down on us

‘Farming is in my blood. But in the community where I live, there are very few people who know what agriculture is or what working with dairy cattle involves. On top of that, the price of dairy feed is incredibly high. Every time we buy feed for the next season, we pay more than we earn. It means farming is hardly profitable, and we can’t produce enough to feed everyone. People – especially young people – often look down on farmers, and on farming in general. They want to move to the city and get a dynamic, well-paid job.’ The farming community is ageing rapidly. Young men and women are needed to keep farms going. Agriterra is looking for young people who could become leaders in their community. Like Jackson, they are key to solving the challenges the community faces.

Cooperation is key

Agriterra teaches farmers how to use feed and breed livestock more efficiently, so they can buy less while producing more. In seminars, workshops and peer-to-peer discussions, they show Kenyan farmers how they can improve their financial management. This enables them to turn their farm into a profitable business, and inspires them to share their experience. ‘Thanks to our cooperation with Agriterra, I was able to visit the Netherlands and see the different methods and technologies used in Dutch dairy farming,’ Jackson says. ‘In the training sessions with Dutch farmers, I learned a lot about these techniques so that I could put them into practice at home.’

Solve two issues at once

‘One of the farmers in our region had to sell all his livestock,’ Jackson tells us. ‘Not because he was bankrupt, but because there was no one who knew how to help him run the farm. At the same time, youth unemployment is a huge issue that we’re struggling with.’ Sustainable and effective agriculture can provide both jobs and goods to the communities – solving two issues at once. ‘Young people have a lot of energy, but it goes to waste if they don’t have work. If we show them how to run their own business and how they can make a difference to their community, they can employ others in the future. That’s how the cycle becomes sustainable. But we need to show them the possibilities first – hold up the right example.’