Kenya: NYS Premier Farm to Become a Technical Agricultural Institution

Ann Waithera orders new produce through the Twiga mobile app for her general store on the outskirts of Nairobi.

The National Youth Service (NYS) Tumaini Unit in Nyandarua County will soon be turned into a technical and vocational agricultural training institution, according to the NYS governing council.

The elevation is part of reforms proposed by the new council following the conversion of the NYS into a State agency.

Tens of students from universities and colleges pursuing agriculture courses go to the unit for practical lessons.

Council spokesman Elijah Wachira did not give the time-frame of when the conversion would be done. But said, "It is at the concept level and the council is firmly behind the idea as it will be a great value addition to the unit," he said while on a tour of the unit with other council members namely Vincent Ombaka, Ali Idris, Adhan Nuri, Anita Chepseba, Benson Mugambi and Florence Muinde.

They said they were impressed by the unit's agricultural projects in poultry, dairy, seed potato, aquaculture and horticulture.

The certified seed potato project is the second biggest in Africa after Rwanda and there is a huge demand for clean seeds.

Potato seed project

Wachira said the council will support the unit develop its potato seed project into a bigger commercial enterprise by injecting more funds.

Ombaka described the unit's aeroponics technology used to produce seed potato as a game-changer.

The seed potato demand for the country is about 100,000 tonnes but only 5,000 are produced and supplied annually.

Ombaka said that the technology can be replicated in urban centres across the country by youths to cut farmers' travelling expenses to buy the materials.

Smart agriculture

"Youths who have an interest in smart agriculture can easily embrace the technology and create job opportunities and support the government's key agenda on food security," said Ombaka.

The council lauded the NYS Tumaini Unit for using locally available materials and resources to generate more income to sustain the institution thus saving the exchequer millions of shillings.

"The greenhouses are made from local materials and are a good example of making use of what is available to increase food production," said Ombaka.

All food consumed by the more than 2,000 recruits and staff at the facility is produced at the unit.

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