Equipping youth as a resource to agricultural productivity

Flowing from farm-to-fork. It’s an agribusiness model that Sheila Nabwire Apopo is passionate about, as a way to support food security, one of the pillars of Kenya’s Big Four Agenda.

An expert in the indigenous chicken value chain in her home country, Sheila’s work is creating jobs for youth, generating income and helping meet Kenya’s shifting food consumption patterns. Her contribution is part of a response to the growing interest in healthier meals amongst families in Kenya. It is also vital in urban areas where many youth have access to small land sites.

Sheila began developing her deep understanding of how indigenous chicken value-chains could become lucrative and operate efficiently in an urban set up during the Agribusiness short course, facilitated by The University of Queensland, in 2018. While participating in the Australia Awards program, Sheila developed an ambitious reintegration action plan (RAP), designed to help her apply her newfound knowledge and skills once back home.

Agriculture has been the engine of economic growth in Kenya, with data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation showing that the sector accounts for more than 25 per cent of gross domestic product. However, limited focus on the consumer and market-oriented approaches that link smallholder producers with higher value and competitive markets is one of the stumbling blocks that has slowed down productivity.

Currently, Sheila works as a Senior Livestock Production Officer in Embakasi West, one of the populous constituencies in Nairobi County, where she is rolling out her RAP. Her primary role is providing technical advice and information on livestock production technologies, techniques and practices. She delivers on this through training demonstrations, field exhibitions and farm visits.

During the Agribusiness short course, Sheila also built her capacity in value-chain thinking, an approach to agricultural development, which she leverages through her work.

‘This approach highlights how partners can align their skills, resources and behaviours to deliver quality products and services to different market segments,’ says Sheila. ‘I learned how to conduct a rapid value-chain analysis and use the findings to address gaps an improve livestock value-chains. I also gained an appreciation of the importance of gender equality and social inclusion in agricultural productivity.’

After completing the short course and once back in Kenya, Sheila couldn’t wait to implement her RAP.

She first conducted a rapid value-chain analysis to determine how indigenous chicken meat flows from farm-to-fork. The analysis also established consumer’s valued attributes along the indigenous chicken meat value-chain. It identified critical control points required and areas of wastage that needed to be addressed.

After completing the analysis, Sheila presented her value-chain findings to 24 Nairobi county livestock production technical staff and a researcher on indigenous chicken.

‘The presentation built their appreciation of consumer-led tactics in implementing value-chains. It also provided them with a new approach to promoting various livestock value chains in their respective sub-counties,’ says Sheila.

The last step in implementing her RAP was for Sheila to participate in information forums seeking to empower youth with knowledge on livestock value-chains. She facilitated three information forums reaching about 200 youth—females and males—with the benefits of indigenous chicken farming. She also shared the immense opportunities for creating jobs and generating income which, in turn, benefits families and communities.

Sheila harnessed the goodwill of farmers to sell indigenous chicken to the youth at a cost they could afford. She then connected the youth with government funding opportunities, such as the Youth Enterprise Development Fund and the Women Enterprise Fund, so they could support themselves and grow their businesses. Sheila provided further support to some groups by guiding them on writing and implementing their business plans and project proposals in the sustainable use of urban spaces through engaging in chicken farming, within the confines of stipulated regulations.

Also important, Sheila has connected the youth to supermarket outlets and online marketing platforms—important channels for selling indigenous chicken and other value-added products like eggs and chicken meat. She’s even guided the youth entrepreneurs to source consumer feedback from supermarket outlets and online marketing platforms to help improve the quality of their products.

Sheila’s holistic approach equips youth to leverage locally available resources and build an appreciation of consumer-oriented value chains for the many benefits they offer.

View Sheila’s case study here…

Photo Credit: Sheila Nabwire Apopo

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