Unemployment remains a major challenge that affects youth across Kenya with approximately 800,000 young Kenyans entering the labour market every year.
Youth unemployment is estimated to be as high as 35%, compared to the overall national unemployment rate of 10%. Furthermore, 80% of unemployed Kenyans are below 35 years old.
A survey done by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) shows that youth in Kenya are experiencing much higher unemployment rates than the rest of the Kenyan population.
“Youths aged 15-19 and 20-24 years have unemployment rates of 25 and 24 percent respectively, about double the overall unemployment of 12.7 percent for the entire working age group despite several interventions by the government and stakeholders,” says the UNDP report.
The national government has already undertaken substantial efforts to address youth unemployment and foster the creation of decent jobs amid several challenges.
In addition to implementing the long-term development strategy Vision 2030 along with its operational plan, it initiated the Youth Enterprise Fund and Uwezo Fund to improve youth entrepreneurial skills and employment.
However, the survey appeals the government and other stakeholders to effectively monitor and evaluate past and ongoing policy interventions, which also include Kenya Jua Kali Voucher Programme, Kazi Kwa Vijana, to inform subsequent interventions.
A related study by the Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey (KIHBS) provides informative data on the role of Household Enterprises (HEs) in economic growth, especially in addressing the problem of youth unemployment in the country.
The survey shows the potential of Household Enterprise at providing employment opportunities to a significant segment of the youth population, “currently accounting for about 5 million jobs in Kenya,” it indicates.
Smallholder Dairy Commercialization Programme (SDCP), which is sponsored by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the government, has been instrumental at capacity building household enterprises in nine counties since 2005.
Matende Holstein Farm at Mugumu village, in Marakusi sub location, Lugari Sub County is a
classic example of the few households that have fully embraced the House Enterprise and youth empowerment concepts in Kakamega County.
Matende Holstein is a successful dairy project managed by Mr. Jeremiah Matende’s two sons, John Matende and Elly Matende who have taken up and implemented modern technologies acquired through various trainings and educational tours courtesy of SCDP.
The project, in its fourth year now, has turned around the family’s sources of livelihoods and improved its living standards.
“After years of tarmacking and hustling along streets of Nairobi and Nakuru towns, I decided to come back to our rural farm and try my luck in farming,” said John.
The family began the livestock project with indigenous cows, but upon being convinced by the sons, the father risked close to Sh.700,000 as start-up capital for the project.
Besides buying three Friesian cows, part of the cash was also used to construct a modern unit as well as procurement of key dairy farming equipment.
“During formative stages we encountered several teething problems due to our scanty knowledge in animal husbandry,” recalled John who holds a Diploma in Information Technology from Eldoret Polytechnic.
The challenges forced the Matendes to approach the livestock production department in Lugari for technical advice and support.
Lugari Sub County Livestock Production Officer, Mr. Wellington Mang’oli, enrolled them for trainings and tours organised by the SDCP, an International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and national government programme.
Some of the places father and sons visited included Nyandarua, Eldoret, Kinangop, Mosoriot, Naivasha and Nakuru.
“Besides the SDCP capacity building programme, my brother and I also made extensive visits to locally established livestock farms within Lugari from where we benefited immensely with knowledge and skills in dairy farming,” stated John.
After gathering sufficient knowledge, the two brothers decided to adopt Total Mixed Rations (TMR) in order to achieve maximum performance from the grade cows.
TMR is a feeding model accomplished by feeding high producing dairy cows a nutritionally balanced ration at all times which allows the animals to consume as close to their actual energy requirements as possible and maintaining the physical or roughage characteristics.
“Total mixed rations (TMR) help dairy cows achieve maximum performance and are the
most adopted method for feeding high producing, indoor-housed dairy cows in the world,” observes John, who spends at least two hours per day on the internet as he strives to keep abreast with emerging trends in the dairy production sector, locally and globally.
The Matendes plant 5 acres of maize for silage which is then mixed with necessary mineral concentrations to formulate feeds for the animals.
“This is enough to prepare feeds for our fresh, early lactation, and mid- and late-lactation cows, as well as for far off and close-up dry cows,” explained John who believes TMR is a much cheaper method of feed formulation feeds for grade cows.
The farm has 12 Friesian cows, with five of them being milked at the moment.
On average each cow produces 20 litres in a day, “but the highest we have ever produced from one cow is 30 litres in a day,” notes Elly.
According to the brothers the cost of producing one litre of milk using TMR model is Sh.19 while current market price a litre is Sh.34.
“Therefore we are reaping profits from this enterprise,” says Elly, a Form four leaver.
The milk is sold to LUKOMU Dairy Network Cooperative Society, Naitiri and nearby milk bars.
“Currently our monthly take home is Sh.50,000 after deducting all costs of production,” reveals the father who has literally left management of the project to the sons.
“My desire is to empower my children through our family household enterprise,” adds Matende who retired four years ago after spending close to 45 years working in hardware companies in Nakuru.
The farm targets to have 40 dairy animals in the next five years