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University of Amsterdam (2018)

Engaging youth in agriculture : a task for agribusiness ? : a study of agribusiness-based advisory services in Central and Rift Valley regions in Kenya

Collina Serena

Titre : Engaging youth in agriculture : a task for agribusiness ? : a study of agribusiness-based advisory services in Central and Rift Valley regions in Kenya

Auteur : Collina Serena

Université de soutenance : University of Amsterdam

Grade : MSc in International Development Studies 2018

Résumé
Stimulating rural youth employment in agriculture is critical for poverty reduction and food security. However, youth face several challenges in agriculture and struggle with limited access to advisory services. Agribusinesses, as major actors in Kenyan agricultural arena, increasingly incorporate service provision in their business models. However, little attention has been paid to investigate how agribusinesses deal with smallholders, who represent the majority of farmers in Kenya, and especially youth. This lack of attention to youth also applies to the literature on participatory extension approaches. Hence, this study firstly aims to acquire new understanding of the role of agribusiness-based advisory services in engaging youth in agriculture. Secondly, it explores how participatory approaches affect the development of youth inclusive advisory services. This qualitative study is based on semi-structured interviews, focus groups and participant observation conducted during a two-month fieldwork in Central and Rift Valley regions in Kenya. I analysed eight cases of agribusiness-based advisory services targeting smallholders and I interviewed young farmers between 18 and 35 years old, as well as various actors along the service provision chain, including older adult farmers, field officers, managers of agribusinesses. This study found that the observed advisory services and the adopted participatory approaches do not generally target youth as a distinct category. However, they seem to indirectly benefit youth and enhance inclusive services. Results suggest that agribusiness-based advisory services (i) respond to youth challenges of limited agricultural knowledge and skills, (ii) create linkages with other stakeholders to enhance a supportive and inclusive network and (iii) offer technology and entrepreneurial-oriented services, which seem to make agriculture attractive to youth. Thus, agribusiness-based advisory services have the potential to facilitate youth engagement in agriculture. The study calls for agribusinesses to rely on the cooperation with multiple stakeholders from public and private sectors to develop youth inclusive services, with a view to contributing to youth engagement in agriculture.

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