YPARD Mapping Training in Africa Science News
Written by By Naftali Mwaura
Kenyan youths have embraced modern technologies to spur innovations aimed to
transform farming practices and the management of natural resources at
the smallholder level.
They are currently utilising information and communication technology
platforms to modernise farming, expand their revenue streams and boost
food security to their communities.
Susan Moenga radiates passion as she narrates her future career goal to work
with small-holder farmers in her native Kisii county having obtained an
under-graduate degree in biotechnology at the Kenyatta University.
The young female scholar has defied conventional wisdom by choosing a career path that might not appear glamorous to her peers.
She says “rural development is an attractive career option and I intend to
channel my knowledge on biotechnology to farmers at the grassroots who
need it most”.
Moenga is a beneficiary of an innovative program that empowers young
professionals in agriculture to boost their competitiveness in
employment sector, innovativeness and entrepreneurship skills.
The Rome based Young Professionals` Platform on Agriculture Research for
Development (YPARD) has developed training programs tailored made for
youths keen on pursuing a career in agriculture sector.
It is funded by the Swiss government and receives in kind support from Global Forum for Agriculture Research (GFAR)
YPARD recently partnered with the Nairobi based Africa Centre for Technology
Studies (ACTS) to implement a training program on geographic information
technologies targeting students in agriculture related disciplines.
The participants drawn from public universities in Kenya were trained on
how to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning
Systems (GPS) and Remote Sensing to provide solutions to agriculture,
health and environmental challenges.
Moenga was among the thirty trainees who benefited from the participatory training program on GPS and GIS.
“Information on these technologies will enable me empower communities in their capacity to monitor weather patterns,” she said.
Moenga hopes to convince small-scale farmers to undertake green house farming in the light of unpredictable weather patterns.
Naomi Gichungu, an Environmental Education Student at Kenyatta University on
the other hand is convinced that understanding of innovative geographic
information tools and their application is crucial to solving
She intends to utilise skills gained on use of Geographic information
Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to help farmers
identify water points and other ecosystems at risk of depletion.
Ann Kingiri, the Director of Research, Africa Centre for Technology
Studies, hailed the vital role of modern technologies to address food
security and environmental challenges in Kenya.
Kingiri remarked: “These technological tools spur agricultural innovations and
promote environmental conservation critical to combating hunger and
poverty in the country”.
Serah Nderitu, a Research Fellow at the Africa Centre for Technology Studies
adds that “technology should be used to attract youth in agriculture”.
Nderitu noted that information and technology platforms have inspired the youth to take up farming as full time occupation.
Partnership between ACTS and Young Professionals` Platform on Agricultural Research
for Development has encouraged use of ICT platforms to modernise
agriculture and make it attractive to youth.
According to Courtney Paisley, the YPARD Coordinator, “this program has raised
the voice of young people in agriculture through skills development on
critical tools that aid innovations”.
Courtney acknowledged, “young people in Africa are missing at all agriculture
value chains in many African countries. They are missing at the policy
level and strategic decision making”.
She added that agriculture research is part of food security and challenged
governments to provide incentives that attracts more youths in this
The Young Professionals` Platform on Agricultural Research for Development
is addressing bottlenecks that hinder greater youth involvement in
Young Scientists at the Consultative Group on Agriculture Research (CGIAR)
centres and International Associations of Agriculture Students are
incorporated in this program.
Beneficiaries of the program access learning materials online.
Courtney says that the program encourage robust communication between young farmers and professionals.
“It also improves understanding of modern farming practices among the youth”, said Courtney.
She cites sustainable fisheries as an area most youths are keen to pursue.
Poverty, inadequate skills and absence of incentives from governments undermine
the morale of youths pursuing careers in agriculture.
Courtney noted that empowering young agriculture scientists will accelerate innovations that boost food security.