Smallholder Rural Youth Farming in Kiambu County, Kenya

Abigael Asiko Kutwa, Wilkins Ndege Muhingi, Donald Kokonya


Investment on agriculture by countries is essential because it is core to every nation’s development. In Kenya, people particularly youth are involved in agriculture yet it attracts limited investment. This study which was aimed at highlighting age, gender participation and the role of literacy in small scale farming among the trained youth in Kiambu County, Kenya. This was mixed methods descriptive and cross sectional study that also employed triangulation to enhance confidence in the findings. This design underscored the current socio-demographic benefits to rural youth small scale farmers in Kabete constituency, Kiambu County, Kenya. Kabete Constituency, was non-probabilistic and purposively selected due to limited time and resources, its cosmopolitan, high agricultural potential comprising both subsistence and commercial farmers and easily accessible to the Nairobi city which is a high potential market for agricultural produce. The study was conducted over a five-month period from September 2015 to January 2016. The study population comprised trained agri-business young rural farmers aged 21 to 35 years who farmed on no more than 0.75 acres of land resident in Kabete Constituency. The key informants who were old farmers and a sample of 111 youths who had practiced farming for more than five years were sampled purposively and using simple random design, respectively. Parents were conveniently sampled for the interviews and focus group discussions (FGD) were conducted in two selected locations. The relevant data was solicited through the use of questionnaire, focus group discussions and observation on youth smallholder trends and farm management practices especially during the data collection period. The instruments were pretested and scrutinized for validity and reliability. Quantitative data was analyzed on descriptive statistics using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 21.0 while qualitative data was analyzed thematically using content analysis. This study showed that a large majority (53%) of the trained youthful rural farmers had attained at least form four level of education compared to 40% of them who had college or University levels of education. Only (15%) had primary school level of education and only 4% of the youthful farmers had no formal education. These findings confirmed that guaranteed literacy among trained rural youthful famers in Kiambu County, Kenya was high (93%), an indicator for the likelihood of effective and successful farming. Over two-thirds (67.4%) of the rural youthful small-scale farmers in Kabete Constituency in Kiambu County, Kenya, has access to financial credit services compared 26.7% who did not have access and 5.9% who had not made up their mind about access to credit services. The rural youthful farmers had above average access to credit services in the study area, further the study established that slightly less than half (46.5%) of the farmers accessed their capital from their families through inheritance, 36% made savings and 17.5% accessed loans. Post-harvest challenge was the most prone challenge among youth framers and smallholder farming in Kabete constituency had improved lives of youths. To concluded, smallholder farming was offering a wide potential for rural youths by creating employment, encouraging savings, reducing food expenses and encouraged self-reliance among the youth. The study recommended review of agricultural policies that will accommodate the youth’s representation and protection of environment that supports farm. Also recommended is adoption of ICT in agricultural practice in Kenya.

Keywords: Agriculture, youth, participation, stakeholders, environment.

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