Opportunities and constraints for youth participation in horticultural production

by Kangai Elosy and John Mburu

This paper draws on the case of youth smallholder fresh produce production and marketing in Eastern and Central Kenya. Specifically, the paper focuses on how youth farmers have embraced the opportunities that facilitate GlobalGAP compliance and the challenges encountered in the process of acquiring GlobalGAP certification. The research study was conducted between 2010 and 2011. Both primary and secondary data was collected through community-level and household surveys. Community level surveys used the following instruments: Participatory Rural Appraisals; Focus Group Discussions and key informant interviews. The household survey targeted smallholder horticultural producers of export vegetables. Systematic and purposive sampling procedures were used to select participants in the study. Descriptive statistics have been used in analysis.
Enforcement of Eurep-Gap (now known as GlobalGAP) standards in year 2005 was expected to enhance  market access for farmers among other benefits such as exploring emerging markets, improved production, better information flow and promotion of domestic horticulture. Compliance with GlobalGAP standards meant that farmers would require additional investment to acquire the recommended infrastructure and certification process. Despite the envisioned benefits, enforcement of GlobalGAP standards introduced new challenges for the Kenyan smallholders and thus, limiting their potential in export horticulture. Youth horticultural farmers have not been an exception. The main challenges encountered in pursuit of GlobalGAP compliance are unfavorable land tenure systems and insecure lease agreements, limited access to funds, limited awareness of potential effects/impact of GlobalGAP compliance, limited awareness of emerging export markets, non-binding contracts and poor coordination of stakeholders making compliance costly and complicated. However, opportunities that youth could tap into to facilitate compliance and horticultural activities include subsidized funding schemes, government-driven infrastructure development, contract farming, formation of strong young farmer groups for collective action in production and marketing, use of ICT services in financial service delivery, technical support and market access, skills development through training and exploring emerging markets.
Youth’s engagement in export horticulture is ranked more favorably compared to other farm-level enterprises due to the high returns per unit area, short production period and regularity of income. However, these benefits are more skewed to the resource endowed youths who can afford the heavy and lumpy investments required to meet GlobalGAP standards. On the flip-side, the less resource-endowed youths either totally or temporarily exit export-bound horticultural production for other enterprises, remain non-compliant or maneuver their way into accessing the export market.  The policy implications emanate from this study: the existing funding opportunities need to be re-modeled in such a way that taps social capital of the resource constrained youths; there is a need to harmonize agencies mandated with horticultural development and allocate them resources that match their roles, coordination of stakeholders is necessary to create synergies for greater impact and lastly, the new land policy should ensure secure land rights are vested on youths and promotion of  a culture of using legally binding land lease agreements.

File: Opportunities and constraints for youth participation in horticultural production.pdf