Agribusiness skills to address food insecurity
Mateu Kiaki seems at ease as he tends to kale crop at the school garden at Leshuta Primary School in Narok County, Kenya. Mateu is the Chairperson of Simba Agricultural Club at the school. The Club has 40 members, 19 girls and 21 boys, all between class 6 and 8 and is managed by a Patron.
The Club was started in 2017 as part of youth enterprise development efforts by the Kenya programme of Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) to support in- and out-of-school youth in five schools in Naikarra Ward in Narok County. Leshuta Primary School is one of the schools that has benefitted from the initiative. The business plan entailing a students’ agribusiness club that they presented to AAH-I was strong enough to have them receive a grant of KES. 75,000 (approximately USD $750) for the project.
“At the moment we are using the patron’s farm within the school compound where we have grown kale, cabbage, spinach and tomatoes. I am among the elected officials for the club. We are responsible for the entire process of planting, harvesting and selling the farm produce. It is an income generating activity, but in the process we have learnt about better nutrition,” says Mateu.
“Pastoralism and the nomadic lifestyle that is common among the Maasai community reduces opportunities to practice agriculture. But this project is imparting knowledge to these young people. Through this venture the students are trained to be ambassadors of change in their families. For example, if parents do not see the importance of growing vegetables for household consumption and as a source of income, this can be addressed by supporting the students to embrace the idea and start similar projects at their homes,” says head teacher Mateu Kandet.
“We sell the vegetables to the school and at the nearby market. We have learnt to keep records for all our sales. We use the profit to buy more seeds and help needy students in the club,” says Vice Chairperson Faith Seinah.
The project is changing the students’ mindset towards entrepreneurship and self-employment and supporting them to be agents of change in addressing issues affecting the community. Caroline Jepchumba says that the project has had a positive impact to both the school and to the community. “The project is an income generating activity and has helped to reduce school transportation costs of sourcing for vegetables from Narok town. It has also provided a ready supply to the villagers who don’t easily find the vegetables around Leshuta town to boost their nutritional diet. This activity by the students has also acted as a great lesson to the community in understanding that their area is fertile and even though they don’t have enough water for watering their farms they can engage in small kitchen gardens in the their homes.”