The Foundation and GIZ on Thursday graduated 350 program beneficiaries who have successfully completed a three-month training in the innovative Hydroponic Farming.
This is part of a six months training course consisting of three months classroom training with practical exercises and the other three months on construction of units and actual group production of the agricultural produce.
The hydroponic farming training that was conducted at Miramar International College (MIC) in Kikuyu, is a soil-less farming method, and a subset of hydroculture, where plants are grown using only a mineral nutrient solution in a water solvent. The technology utilises less space and water and crops mature within a short time.
The graduates have been equipped with hydroponic techniques of producing vegetables, tomatoes, strawberries and livestock fodder among other food crops.
Speaking during the event at the college, KCB Foundation Executive Director Jane Mwangi noted there was need to adopt innovative approaches towards involving the youth in agricultural production.
This, she added, will play a great role in solving the unemployment challenge in Kenya and addressing food shortages.
“The innovativeness and readiness of the youth to embrace new technologies in farming makes it attractive to engage them in productive agricultural undertakings. KCB Foundation’s theme for 2018 which focuses on the youth in agriculture resonates with food security, one of the country’s current priorities,” she said.
The Executive Director added that hydroponic farming technology addresses several challenges that come with access to land.
“Land is often scarce and difficult to access for young people, and without collateral getting credit to buy land is nigh on impossible. With hydroponic technology space can be effectively utilised,” she said.
The beneficiaries are part of the Skills and Enterprise Development project, an initiative between KCB Foundation’s 2jiajiri programme and GIZ’s E4D/SOGA (Employment and Skills for Eastern Africa) program.
The project offers scholarships for vulnerable youth in short technical courses in Agribusiness, Building and Construction. In the agricultural sector the emphasis is on hydroponics and aquaponics, an innovative fish farming method that will be commissioned in 2018.
This is achieved through practical oriented vocational training, life skills, work readiness training and enterprise development skills necessary to drive employment and wealth creation in the construction and agriculture sectors.
“The training for the agriculture sector takes 3 months of which the third month involves the construction of units and actual group production of the agricultural produce. The youth will then be organised and facilitated to enter into production contracts with large scale off-takers and retailers such as supermarkets,” Ms Mwangi explained.