The paradox of Isiolo county is that it is a very big city, with a small population of around 268,000 people. It stands as being one of the counties with the largest poverty index due to the prolonged and significant environmental issues, poor performance of schools and youth unemployment. This has led many youths in the county to be frustrated with life hence end up being recruited to Al Shabaab or plunging themselves into drug abuse. At most times, women, with nothing else to do, have to stay at home to look after the young ones.
On 1st February 2021, Isiolo County Governor Dr. Abdi Kuti and Kenya Climate Innovation Centre CEO, Dr. Edward Mungai, signed an agreement that will change this situation by tapping into the growing agricultural sector through the AgriBiz Programme.
Despite ongoing on and off farm efforts to increase climate resilience in the county, farmers’ adaptive capacity remains low and agricultural yields have continued to decrease over the past years. Youth and women being the most vulnerable groups are the ones mostly affected as they depend on farming for household income and food security. Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC) bringing the AgriBiz Programme to the county will bridge this gap by helping the youth and women in agribusiness develop ways to adopt sustainable agricultural practices.
Speaking during the signing ceremony held in Nairobi, the Governor said the MoU is an initial step towards addressing youth and women empowerment, creation of businesses among young people and alleviating climate issues in the area.
“This five-year partnership is a much welcome initiative to help reverse the poverty trends in Isiolo by bringing more women and young people into agribusiness. This will not only reduce issues of poverty but also focus on engaging young people to develop innovations that address the climate crisis in the county.
“I therefore challenge the women and young people of Isiolo county to learn and participate fully in this programme. In addition, I would like to appreciate the donors of the programme, the European Union and Danida and KCIC who have thought Isiolo as one of the destinations among the eight counties participating in the AgriBiz programme,” he said.
The mode of practicing agribusiness is quite different in the county because the region is mainly semi-arid. The county is therefore leveraging on this partnership to support youth and women who have very innovative agricultural practices to help put the county on the frontline when it comes to contributing to the national food basket.
On his part, Dr. Edward Mungai said that agriculture is no longer the old agriculture that we used to know. It is about embedding technology, looking into the future and making it exciting and out of it making money and creating jobs for ourselves and others.
“We are happy to be signing this MoU with Isiolo County aimed at helping young people and women to look at agriculture as an alternative. Our basic job is try and provide them with skills, money and an enabling environment which will make their agribusiness ideas to become scalable businesses,” Dr. Edward said.