SDG-Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Growing up in the Kano plains of Kisumu County in western Kenya, my childhood was filled with numerous activities. As a kid growing up in the village, I believe we had it way better than most of my counterparts in the suburbs. As a young boy I loved looking after goats, this was my chance to go kick it with the boys as we let the goats lose out in the thickets. In my community, it was almost hard if not impossible to see a hungry child. We ate everywhere so long as you got there and there was food being served. The community set up was such that the community grew enough to feed all of us.
As I stand here today, it saddens me to say that this is no longer the case in most parts of my country. Food security is no longer a term we use in the positive in my beloved continent of Africa. But why? You may ask, what happened? And why can’t we keep eating at every aunties house or drinking from every uncle’s well? What changed?
You see, in my childhood I witnessed my cousins and other relatives work on the farms. I saw my brothers wake up at 4.00 am in the wee hours of the morning to take out the ox and plough and ready the fields. The community worked together but more so the community utilized the vibrancy of the youth and involved them in agriculture. In Kano, where I come from we grow rice, irrigated rice to be specific. Now for those who have worked rice fields you know how hard it is to grow this particular crop. Were it not for the young people within my community we would never have been able to survive the floods and better yet make the most of it for our rice production.
Food security is something we cannot run away from in this century. Global hunger is affecting 38 million more people than the previous year, and a staggering 2 billion people are not consuming adequate amounts of micronutrients like iron and vitamins.We may have messed up the ecosystem in most parts of the world and tampered with the productivity of the land but we have to find innovative ways to help grow enough to feed the future of this world. As a young person I believe in the potential of youth and their ideas. If we involve our young people in matters food security then I can promise you that one of them if not all will give us ideas that will move us from our current state to one where we can grow, prepare and preserve enough for us to eat and spare for our future generations.
I stand before all of you as a firsthand witness of the power of youth and their ideas having worked on numerous activities aimed at inspiring young people into agribusiness. From producing films about agriculture and youth involvement in agribusiness in Tanzania, to managing a reality TV show that sought to show the potential in small scale farming for youth, I have seen what the right kind of information can do in terms of increasing youth involvement into helping the world achieve food security.
In Kenya, I am what they call a briefcase farmer. Those of us who work in the city and have some land back home where we grow something but we have very little interactions with it. There are a lot of youth just like myself who haven’t yet seen the potential that’s there in working towards food security. We need to show them this opportunity, we need to get them involved, bring them onboard, talk to them and not talk for them. We need show the gaps available in technology, we need to share stories of people like Ed Mabaya, a young man who left Zimbabwe more than ten years ago to study in the United States. Motivated by childhood experiences growing up in rural Zimbabwe, Ed Mabaya is involved in several programs that seek to improve the lives of African farmers through improved access to better performing seed varieties.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am stepping up today to tell you that we young people are here and are willing to help. We are the key to a food secure world, we may never get back to eating at every aunties house or drinking at every uncle’s well but we most definitely ensure dining table has a fruit for every visitor.
Thank you and God bless you.