Several weeks ago, The New York Times had a story on efforts by some members of the younger generation to spruce up how farming is perceived – ‘Millennials ‘Make Farming Sexy’ in Africa, Where Tilling the Soil Once Meant Shame’ by Sarah Maslin Nir.  While the story said Africa, it was set in Ghana.  There are quite a few other nations on the continent and GFN member Chibuike Emmanuel from Nigeria decided to set out and highlight some young farmers and efforts in a few other countries.  Starting last week with Ensuring Ag Remains ‘Sexy’ In Africa, the first part of this short series, GFN is sharing few of highlights from Chibuike over the coming few weeks.  Part 2 below:

The multi-disciplinary efforts of young Africans to ensure that Agriculture remains ‘sexy’ on the continent.

Rodney (at left) talking with his father and brother.

Unlike most African farmers, Rodney Kili is a second-generation commercial farmer who farms alongside his father and brother on their 1000 acre Komool Farms, near Eldoret in Uasin-Gishu County, Kenya (pictured above in the main image). They grow malting barley, wheat, sunflower and canola.  They also do some dairy farming then process and mill their maize into flour.  Rodney’s father saw the future, as Rodney said ‘’While working as a mechanic he scraped up resources bit by bit to start the farm. He would work all day at the mechanic workshop, all night at the farm and drive to work again in the morning.”  Today they run one of the most tech savvy indigenously owned farms in Kenya deploying technologies such as precision and no-till farming.  So, after attending University Rodney knew just as his brother also did that he needed ‘’to move back to the farm to help out’’ because his father already made “great sacrifices”…

Some of the concerns that the author raised [in the Times article] were “Low use of fertilizer, and reliance on things like rain-fed irrigation, has left Africa with crop yields that are only 20 to 30 percent of what could be produced” — so innovating to support primary agriculture is very critical.

Samir Ibrahim co-founded SunCulture, which produces  solar-powered drip irrigation systems for farmers in Kenya ensuring cleaner electricity, 300% greater yields, 80% less water usage and saving  2 billion litres of water each year.  Also in Kenya, the duo of Rita Kimani and Peris Bosire, who met as students at the University of Nairobi, after graduating deployed their computer science skills to form FarmDrive which offers alternative credit scoring model to ensure financial inclusion for disenfranchised but creditworthy smallholder farmers through using mobile phones.  Within that space, at age 19 Brian Bosire developed a technology to better utilize resources like fertilizer and water through UjuziKilimo which uses sensors to precisely capture soil and farm data and then generate insights using machine learning and big data analytics for small holder farmers.  On the west side of the continent in Nigeria, Nasir Yammama also deploys the same kind of services through his agritech social enterprise Verdant – but with a focus on mobile application using low-end phones, SMS and voice services, which eliminate the need to be tech-savvy or having to own smart phones…

See Part 3 next week...

Chibuike Emmanuel is a young Nigerian farmer who is a member of the Global farmer Network. He is the founding curator of the Agriculture is Sexy Network which inspires, supports and mentors millennials to embrace agri-food careers as a pathway to Africa’s economic prosperity.