“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen and a push in the right direction” - John C Crosby
Everyone in life needs someone to show them how to do what they know best. Having being born in a farming family and having spent my whole childhood rearing rabbits and doing other farm chores, I developed a very deep connection with agriculture even beyond what my parents were doing.
With the knowledge i had acquired from school and practical experiences, two years ago I decided to start rearing chicken and used the savings I had managed to put back as my seed capital. This was not an easy task as I actually lost all my initial investments with the first round of chicken that I reared. All the 200 chicks I had bought died from a disease outbreak which I had not vaccinated them against. This did not prevent me from moving on but rather gave me the courage to do more to succeed. I picked up the broken pieces borrowed some money from my friends and reinvested back. This time round i made some profit and after a while I was able to return back the borrowed money and continue with my venture.
The Blessing that was YPARD Mentorship
In June last year, YPARD began a one year journey to mentor young people in Agriculture. I was privileged to be part of the 15 young people who were selected across the country to be part of this one year journey. The aim of this mentorship program was to provide opportunities for learning amongst the youth in agriculture sector by linking them up to Mentors,people who already have experience in the field.
For me this was an amazing opportunity to not only learn from the mentors and mentees in the program but also to share my vast experience in the field of agriculture and beyond. My first encounter with everyone got me excited and truly felt this was a great opportunity. It all begun with a one week orientation workshop where all of us met for the first time. This week involved not only trainings on various aspects of mentorship but also personal development exercises that got me reflecting on my personal journey as a young person passionate about agriculture and youth development. One of the best moments in the program was when I met with my coach in the presence of mentor to present my plan for the next one year and beyond that I had developed. Looking back, in the span of one year I had achieved much of what I had purposed to do.
Immediately after the orientation workshop my mentor invited me for a pitching event at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology organised by FARA, UNiBrain, SVCDC and other stakeholders. I was not sure exactly what to pitch and how to do it but I had an idea in mind on incubating cows for interested individuals in my farm after which we would share the profits on a 60-40%ratio.This idea was riding on the fact that everyone would like to have an extra income but they do not have the time to commit to ensuring that extra income is forthcoming. Therefore, they would put in money in the form of a cow which I would take care of without them being involved and send them returns every month. My mentor helped me develop it further and later on with the skills I had learnt from the orientation workshop I was able to pitch my idea. Despite having not won I took my idea further to alot of people and actually managed to get funding from two individuals whom I am still incubating cows for. This is indeed an opportunity that has helped me grow my dairy business.
Despite the various challenges the program went through both from a financial and or technical perspective, there was a lot of huge success stories on how mentorship opened up opportunities to the youth. It is indeed evident that mentorship has a very huge role to play when it comes to encouraging youth to be involved in Agriculture. Over the one year I was able to pick up a few key lessons that I take with me and these include:
- If you want go fast walk alone but if you want to go Far walk with like minded people.Having been involved in the mentorship program I have been able to learn a lot from my fellow mentees as well as the mentors. One of the good examples is when I was looking for a certain type of fodder ‘Bracardia’ for the cows and I couldn’t get it. But after asking within the network, one of the mentees who works at ICIPE made it available to me and this greatly boosted the production of my cows.
- Learning is a process in life that all of us need to embrace and be open to. The program has indeed exposed me to a lot of opportunities such as my participation in the youth in landscapes initiatives where I was able to earn a lot and meet a number of great people. This has helped me develop my knowledge network on Agriculture
- Personal development is a critical process that contributes to career development. Over the past one year of my mentorship program I was able to develop and actualise my personal development plan and through this i have been able to understand myself much better. This includes my career development as well as the personal development. With the participation in the program I was able to secure myself a position at AgriProFocus as the Youth in Agribusiness Thematic facilitator for East Africa. I hope to give back to YPARD by helping develop the agenda of YPARD in the coming years.
- Nobody is so small to be ignored. Always value everyone.
This has indeed been a journey worth the time and effort and I would truly recommend it to any young person in Agriculture. As we move forward, it would be great to have more of these opportunities for the young people across all sectors. I was therefore delighted to represent AgriProFocus and listen to how we could contribute to moulding young people in agriculture. This will definitely go a long way in contributing to our programs on youth in agribusiness across the globe.