With the increasing need for young people to be actively involved in agriculture, young professionals in agriculture gathered in Nairobi to celebrate fifteen young people who have proactively contributed to innovative and economically sustainable agricultural development.
With each passing day, there is some increasing need for young people to be involved in agriculture. More often than not, young people have the ideas and ambition to become successful entrepreneurs, farmers and researchers but are often held back by lack of access to skills training, technology, networks or finance.
Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) a movement central to young people’s interest thought wise to walk the talk. In 2015, the global unit launched the YPARD Pilot mentoring program with the aim of unlocking the potential of budding young agriculturalists by providing them with opportunities to engage and connect with senior agricultural professionals in business, research, extension services and ICT to help them reach their full potential in agricultural development. This was done in collaboration with African Women in Agricultural Research for Development (AWARD) and the YPARD Kenya Country chapter.
The Pilot mentoring Program
The YPARD Youth in Agriculture Pilot Mentoring Program kicked off in June 2015 where 15 mentees, from an initial pool of 150 applicants, were paired and matched with 15 mentors. These mentees were drawn from a pool comprising of farmers, students, entrepreneurs, young scientists and extension workers from across Kenya.
This cohort of mentees include; Vivian Ochieng, Irene Kagera, Lencer Ochele, Esther Ndichu, Catherine Muiruri, Duncan Cheruiyot, Allan Migaili, Sally Musungu, Alphaxard Gitau Ndungu, Emily Ongus, Gerishom Boiyo, Samwel Murage, Juliet Braslow, Julius Makanga and Obadiah Biwot.
Over the course of the year they had one on one sessions with their mentors where they were equipped with skills in communication, conflict resolution, networking as well as on farm management practices.
In the span of one year, the mentees with the help of their mentors have made some exciting achievement and to crown them, YPARD and AWARD organised a graduation ceremony at Desmond Tutu Conference Centre in Nairobi. The well attended graduation ceremony marked as a feedback session with many mentees requested the participants to continue supporting youths in their vicinities. Here are a few highlights
- With the help of his mentor Justus, Duncan successfully applied and received a PhD scholarship to study at the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Nairobi.
- Esther's tomato greenhouse farming project has benefited enormously from the advice of her mentor, Nicholas and supplied tomatoes to her local area in a time of scarcity.
- Patricia facilitates a networking opportunity for her mentee, Emily, with extension officers who inform the design of Emily's new consultancy service.
- Alpha was selected to pitch an idea for a smallholder farmer exchange at the Global Landscapes Forum in Paris. Pitching experiences organised by his mentor James, certainly helped Alpha craft a great pitch.
- Allan has been able to register his agricultural services business and attend a series of leadership and agriculture conferences, with the support of his mentor, Franklin.
Hopefully, YPARD will continue upscaling such mentorship initiatives in the future. Keep glued for the mentorship program evaluation set to be released in early September.