SBS student wins Top 35 under 35 Youth of the Year Award
Victor Mugo was one of the recipients of the Top 35 under-35 award during this year’s International Youth Day celebrations. He was named Youth of the Year-Agribusiness category and therefore enlisted among the Top 35 under-35 Youth in Kenya at the awards that had attracted over 1000 nominees. Since 1999 the United Nations celebrates youth initiatives on August 12th and on this day the Ministry of ICT and Youth Affairs, UNFPA and Youth Agenda took the opportunity to recognize exemplary youth in the different areas of youth engagement across various sectors representing the Big Four Agenda. We spoke to Victor, an alumnus of the University of Nairobi and a current graduate student at the Strathmore University Business School pursuing a Master’s in Development Finance.
How are you unlocking potential in the youth?
To rephrase your question, I believe that we are working more to transform the agriculture sector so that it can in turn deliver opportunities for young people. At the Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN), our mandate is to aid the youth transition to climate-smart agriculture and, by doing so, this helps to unlock decent employment opportunities for them in agriculture. Moreover, through climate smart agriculture the youth get to engage in climate action by addressing the climate change – one of the most pressing issues of our time, and also make a meaningful contribution to helping cultivate a more food secure nation and world. In my role as country coordinator, I work to design, deliver, and implement programmes that create awareness and build the productive capacity of young people on Climate-Smart Agriculture. In the end, the aim is that the youth can curate innovative, profitable, and sustainable agricultural enterprises that provide resilient livelihoods and jobs for the youth.
What are some of the misconceptions about farming/ agriculture?
To exemplify this, we asked some students to paint or draw on a sheet of paper the first thing that came to their mind once the word agriculture was mentioned. We later collected and analyzed the sheets to deduce the youth’s perceptions about farming. From the exercise, the common illustrated figures show the misconceptions about the sector. Most of the students drew an old man (showing that agriculture is a man only and retired citizens forte), standing next to a grass thatched hut (farmers are poor) while holding a garden hoe (agriculture has little space for technological and scientific advancements) under the scorching sun (agriculture is menial and difficult). However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Today, a new generation of young people are seizing opportunities not just in farming but also across the value chain in processing, produce marketing and retail, logistics, storage and ag-tech. While at it, they are shedding the garden hoe and using some of the latest technology and highly developed machinery. The face of agriculture is changing and stands at the centre of the health, food, climate and technology sectors. Despite short-term challenges, the future for agriculture is promising.
Victor is a lead author of UNEP’s Global Environmental Outlook for the Youth and also writes opinion and analysis columns for the Business Daily on social, political, economic, and environmental issues that impact food and nutritional security in Kenya and the rest of the world.
This article was written by Annete Karanja.
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