Agribusiness and agriculture play a significant role in Kenya's economy. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO), it contributes 26% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and another 27% of GDP indirectly through linkages with other sectors. The agriculture sector employs more than 40% of the total population and more than 70% of Kenya's rural people. According to a study by the World bank in 2014, they found women in Kenya make up between 42% - 65% of the agricultural labour force and globally women produce more than 50% of the food grown worldwide this according to FAO. Covid19 has also led to a lot more individuals globally exploring their potential in farming, at the height of Covid we saw a lot of those in corporate selling their produce at the boot of their cars.
In light of this, I went on a hunt for suitable insight and business advice to share with our readers who are potential future female farmers. So I reached out to my friend Kevin Kamau Founder and Managing Director of Tukalime, Tukalime which is a farm management company that assists people with idle land to earn from these assets through Agriculture and their vision Statement is creating wealth through Agriculture, one individual at a time. We discussed at length matters on agriculture and agribusiness and what he had to say is definitely what you need to hear if you are seriously considering exploring the idea of agribusiness as a full-time career or as a side hustle.
Here is what Kevin had to say to future female farmers:
Since starting Tukalime what have you observed with females when it comes to agribusiness?
During my seven-year journey in the world of Agribusiness, I can confidently say that 70% of Tukalime’s clientele have been women which is in tandem with the current ongoings in multiple industries. The Kenyan woman is on a pace to take over. Their objectives to venture into agriculture varies from person to person. From assisting their ageing parents in running income-generating assets to their own self progression of having multiple income-generating streams.
How would you define the Kenyan female farmer and the challenges you feel their experiencing?
The Kenyan woman farmer is diligent, hardworking and has an unwavering north star that guides her every move. However, they are tested at every turn of their journey. Could be it’s the failed assumption that they are not well versed in matters of agriculture or is it the misguided male macho bravado, in the African context, that seems to believe that they deserve the final say above women in the room.
I have been called many times to intercede on behalf of a female client to a farmhand or a supplier who happens to be male and who approaches the lady in a condescending tone and fails to execute instructions from the boss just because she is female. Ever so humble and realizing the societal tilt, my female client takes it in stride. For them, the result of success is all they care about. They are willing to let the male ego, in this instance, flourish for the small win, but the victor will be the one that takes home the spoils of a bumper harvest in 4-5 months.
With how the female farmer behaves, what can you say this teaches you or relates to?
It makes me wonder whether the Kenyan female is well versed in the principles of the Art of War by Sun Tzu? Where he says and I quote “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.
This is admirable to observe and an attitude to employ in one's daily life.
Lastly, Share with the future female farmers your best piece of advice.
My piece of advice to the female farmer comes in the form of four points:
1. Approach Agribusiness and farming from a well-versed viewpoint. This should be done both in theory but most importantly, practically. I encourage farm visits, be a sponge of knowledge.
2. Start small. A kitchen garden can help you learn a lot about the production process, tastes and preferences of consumers (your neighbours/friends and family should be your first test subjects), and market absorption rate of certain fresh produce.
3. Your approach should be market-centric. Yes, mushrooms taste good and have a good price at Zucchini, however, how many times do you see mushrooms on the plate of a typical Kenyan meal?
4. De-risk as much as possible. Take care of all the factors of production needed. i.e Water, healthy soil, labour and quality sufficient inputs. Kindly do not depend on rain. Have you seen Nairobi almost snow in mid-August lately?
We love what Kevin shared and may this help you pattern up to your journey into agribusiness, we will add to Kevin's advice and remind you that in life in order to grow and succeed all is ignited by the action to begin.
We wish you all a bright farming future!
To learn more about Tukalime check out the website http://www.tukalime.com/ and/or email them on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also connect through their social media platforms Facebook and Instagram as @tukalime.