By Jerry Abuga
KCB Foundation is supporting re-integration of juveniles from correctional facilities through the innovative, soil-less hydroponic farming technology.
Over 40 juveniles at Kabete Rehabilitation School have received Ksh 500,000 payment from sale of produce grown using the innovative hydroponic farming technology. Hydroponic farming is a soil-less method of farming where plants are grown using only a mineral nutrient solution in a water solvent.
The youngsters have formed five groups and have set up greenhouses at the correctional facility through the support of KCB Foundation- the social investments arm of KCB Group.
The payment for leafy vegetables and tomatoes was made by an off-taker, San Valencia Limited, during the first harvest at the institution on Wednesday, 4 April. The products will also be exported to Qatar through firms that supply organic food products from Africa to leading international retailers based in Doha.
KCB Foundation is supporting re-integration of juveniles from Kabete, Dagoretti Girls and Kirigiti Girls Rehabilitation Schools by engaging them in hydroponic farming technology under its support to the government’s social protection initiative – National Safety Net Programme (NSNP), popularly known as Inua Jamii, which targets orphans, vulnerable children, the elderly and persons living with disability.
The Foundation, through the KCB Group cash transfer programme, has partnered with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection to support the initiative. KCB Foundation incorporated Inua Jamii where it supported vulnerable children through provision of hydroponic farming and entrepreneurial skills to enable them become independent financially. The young people were trained on growing leafy vegetables, tomatoes, strawberries and fodder using the technology.
Through this programme the young people have also been linked to the market through contracted off-takers.
Under Inua Jamii, KCB Foundation supported 400 beneficiaries to undertake training on hydroponic farming technology at Miramar International College in Kikuyu in 2017. Out of the 400, 105 were juveniles from the three corrective institutions.
The beneficiaries are currently undergoing business incubation support offered by the Foundation as they seek to establish their own businesses in the hydroponic sector. They have also received grants amounting to Ksh 6.3 million to construct seven greenhouses where they have planted tomatoes and leafy vegetables.
Speaking during the cheque handover KCB Group Chairman Ngeny Biwott said the initiative emanated from a commitment by the Foundation to ensure seamless transition and re-integration of the young people in the society as well as provision of sustainable income for them.
“We looked for something that could assure the young people of continuous income, and which could keep them busy and enable them contribute to the economy and nation building,” said Biwott.
He added that the hydroponic technology addresses several challenges that come with access to land. “Land is often scarce and difficult to access for young people, and without collateral getting credit to buy land is nigh on impossible. With hydroponic technology space can be effectively utilised,” he said.
KCB Foundation Chairman Austen Barasa said the Foundation’s theme for 2018 that focuses on youth in agriculture resonates with one of the pillars of the country’s priorities of food security. “In aligning to this, the Foundation has been supporting youth in enterprise development through agribusiness”, he said. He added that the innovativeness and readiness of young people to embrace new technologies in farming makes it attractive to engage them in productive agricultural undertakings.
The chief guest at the event State Department of Social Protection Principal Secretary Susan Mochache termed adoption of modern farming methods as a major aspect of social protection, poverty reduction and empowerment of the young people as they are re-integrated back into society. “We are commitment to support economic empowerment and social integration of young people from correctional facilities and we look forward to enhanced engagement of partners such as KCB foundation,” she said.
KCB Foundation is offering training for the youth in hydroponic farming under the agribusiness component of its 2jiajiri programme, a wealth and job creation programme for the youth in the informal sector.