Even though tenure issues are acknowledged in
Kenya’s state constitution as Doshi et al (2014) point out, the devolution of
control and decision-making authority of governance on land resources leads to
unclear boundaries of authority and weak local level capacity for planning and
implementation for youth in agricultural production (AGRA,2015). As a result of youth not obtaining long term rights to land, the
perceptions are that there is no point in long term investments in agribusiness
(Toulmin, 2008).



principle of the linkage model has been criticised for relying on unrealistic
assumptions about the seamless receptiveness of non-farm output from increasing
farmers demands and the underlying indirect concerns, such as access to land
needed for production (Hart, 1989). The ambiguities in the definitions
of what constitutes as ‘local supply’, allows for various multiplier results
which are often exaggerated (Harris, 2004; Hart, 1989). In light of this, Ellis (1998) and Barrett et al (2001) argue that non-farm
income sources are agents of positive change in agricultural growth, rather
than agricultural productivity as the agent of rural non-farm growth. For
example, ‘reciprocal reverse flows’ from rural non-farm activities might help
the acquisition of agricultural inputs which improves
productivity(Ellis,1998)). Directing investments towards the ‘forward linkages’
in value chains systems (processing, packaging, information, trade, transport,
harvest services and so forth) could present viable options for the unemployed
youth (AGRA,2015). Due to risk-taking characteristics of young people in
general, they are more willing to take the risks associated to agribusiness and
agro-industry employment, compared to older demographics who are satisfied with
subsistence farming (Kenya Youth Agribusiness Strategy,2017).

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Kenya has diversified diagonally, shifting
focus from traditional primary exports (tea and coffee) to processing of other
products (fishery and horticulture products) (Silva et al, 2009). In
particular, the FAO (2014) notes that high-value crops, such as
in horticulture, can offer jobs to youth in rural areas. In relation, Dolan and Sutherland (2002) find that youth (mainly males) are often
involved in the processing part horticulture value chains, and after earning
some money here, they return to their homes and buy small plots of land to
start their own small agricultural business, which correlates to Ellis (1998)
emphasis on ‘reciprocal reverse flows’.In relation, Rees et al. (2000) find
that some youth work as ‘service providers’ by purchasing agricultural produce
in rural areas and selling them in peri-urban or urban areas. On their way
back, youth typically bring seeds (and agro- chemicals) to sell in the rural
areas (Rees et al,2000). Here, youth tend to work together in clubs to collect
resources and increase loan access to establish their enterprises (Rees et


Although such opportunities exist, it is
important to note that a majority of young people still have deviating
viewpoints on value chains and not much research has been conducted on youth
involvement in this field (FAO,2014). As such, value chains differ in the
opportunities available for youth, and Chege (2012) finds that the structures
of cut flower value chains are in stark contrast to coffee value chains.
Activities are vertically integrated by networks between various stakeholders
in the cut flower industry, where farmers participate in nearly all the stages
of the value chain (Chege, 2012). By contrast, the vertically fragmented
mechanisms of coffee processing and marketing restrict farmers to involvement
in the production stage only (Chege, 2012). In light of this, Ellis’ (1998)
emphasis on creating synergies with the nonfarm sector allows us to ask the
following questions; do opportunities exist for young farmers to move up the value
chain, particularly in agro-processing, to accumulate more value from their
commodity? Are there any lessons the coffee sector can learn from the
cut-flower industry for agricultural development?


The way in which value chain processes
operate characterize the coffee industries structure as dependent on the
sectors historical context and policy interventions that have pursued over time
(Chege, 2012). Boro (2006) finds that that local factors such as inefficiencies
in the cooperatives, incomplete liberalization process, and poorly structured
frameworks have contributed to the declining coffee performance. The Coffee Act
(2001) requires farmers to forward their produce to the cooperatives who manage
processing and marketing i.e. milling and roasting – however, inefficiencies in
cooperatives have caused major delays in inputs supplies, produce payments,
credit processing and hardly any feedback mechanisms exist to assist small
scale farmers in accessing information on the changing dynamics of consumers’ needs
or markers (Chege, 2012). Moreover, excessive regulation, routed from the
International Coffee Organization (ICO), curtails farmer participation in
processing, which makes the distribution of value added activities to be highly
skewed against the small-scale farmers and young people (World Bank, 2005).


The concept of scale has increasingly been
deployed to represent the ways in which power is spatially constituted, and
Bulkeley’s (2005) ensemble of ‘scaling’ and networking strategies, which
include the ‘politics’ of scale (socio-spatial context within a vertical given
scale) and the ‘networks’ of scale (horizontal and relational relationships
among multiple scales), underpin the differing dynamics between coffee and
cut-flower agriculture stakeholders. Chege’s (2012) findings show that
decisions typically cascade downscale from the interstate to the community
level so that nation states retain the central role in defining and forming the
coffee industry constitutions (Hooghe and Marks, 2001). This type of vertical
politics (or ‘scale-centrism’) is not without a number of deficiencies
as such rigid approaches seem heavily ‘bounded’, giving little consideration of
the possibility that management of value chains stages could, in fact, emanate
from the ‘bottom’ (local).


By contrast, Bulkeley’s (2005) ‘hybrid’
approach which integrates vertical and horizontal relationships between
stakeholders can be applied to Kenya’s growing cut-flower industry. The
institutional structure of Kenya’s cut flower industry performs relatively way
ahead in comparison to the coffee industry and farmers can participate in
nearly all the stages of the value chain i.e. sorting, packaging and cold
storage. Herod and Wright (2002) argue that ‘rescaling’ governance arrangements
in this way are non-exclusive, as autonomy can also be practiced from multiple
sources of authority which can include state actors, the producers, membership
associations, businesses interests and so forth. Nested scales falling
vertically provide a ‘spatial scaffold’ where powers “shifting up and down” (Agnew and Sharp, 2015;
pg.29) enable social processes to flow and horizontal networks allow for
information sharing, collaboration between actors and improvement of operations
at farm level (Hornberger et al, 2007).


As Collier and Dercon (2014), point out,
agricultural transformation is not about ‘ditching’ small holders as the 1960’s
models of mechanised agriculture informed- rather, consideration to more
flexible and open minded organisational models without focusing inclusively on
smallholders for agricultural development. Small holders are considered ‘heterogeneous’ and
there is much scope for larger farmers or commercial enterprises to interact
with smaller farmers through ‘vertical integration’ in processing and marketing
through contract farming (Collier and Dercon,2014). The cut flower industry is
comprised of both small-scale growers who often use collective
marketing agreements and contracts with bigger growers or exporters such as
Nature grow Ltd (Chege,2012). The coffee sector can borrow the cut flower
chain’s vertical coordinated networks model but this can only be achieved through fair
institutional frameworks which reworking geographical
scale to produce a more advantageous positioning of agri-industry at local
levels (Agnew and Sharp, 2015). Since agricultural development and
agri-industry are complex and multifaceted topics that prove relevance across a
number of scales and sectors, it seems unrealistic to assume that the private
sector alone can, in the short and medium term, offer the necessary tools for
smallholder labour productivity.


In the global economic policy regime,
agro-industry is a means to promote global tangible benefits to meet the demand
of world consumption. In the international development community,
agro-industries provides a range of local intangible benefits such as
employment opportunities and agricultural development. But for the subsistence
farmer and rural youth, agro-industry could be a source of local tangibles that
ensure livelihood security, diversified incomes, food security, access to
markets and credit. In this view, Oldham (2002) suggests that the ontology of
the state’s political economy on the importance of agro-industry differs from
the ontology of day-to-day practices of local farmer. Livelihood opportunities
are shaped by the wider policy environment, including the political parties and
their policies, constitutions, state regulations but Kenya’s governance issues
and deficiencies poses a number of risks in terms of sustainability, equity and
inclusiveness of the coffee producers (Chege, 2012).


a laissez faire framework to rural nonfarm economies seems unlikely to
alleviate poverty in the current generation, especially since only a few poor,
uneducated or unskilled are likely to participate (Barret et al,2001). Here, it is important to note that higher productivity stages of the value
chain are more suited to educated individuals who can deepen market research
and manage the production line (Osti et al,2015). Relevant educational attainment proves to be
an important determinant of the level of nonfarm earnings, especially in
skilled and more remunerative salaried employment (Osti et al,2015). Indeed, a wide range of Kenya’s governmental reports and strategies
emphasise youth inclusion in agricultural development, yet the current policies
in place do not adequately facilitate this (FAO,2014).Initiatives must challenge
the counterproductive farming mind-sets through building self-confidence of the
youth, assisting in coordinating those that do wish to be agricultural
entrepreneurs through mentoring and information, and ensuring that local
efforts must be managed and led by youth themselves (AGRA, 2015). Overall,
investing in both human and financial assets of the rural youth are important
for enhancing productive nonfarm employment which will help them find viable
exit strategies from farming as their economies develop (Diao et al, 2007).


The youth are, and will remain, a significant
share of Kenya’s population for the foreseeable future and the agriculture sector is
yet to fully exploit the potential of the youth. Many
of the difficulties faced are rather proximate and endogenous, with most
research attempting to examine the results of the poor availability and access
to suitable farming land, rural income diversification, ‘jobless growth’, and a
general negative perception of agriculture from the youth. It is clear that improvements
to agricultural productivity and the growth of non-farm activities are
essential to rural development and youth empowerment, especially in regards to the
linkages opportunities within agri-business, agro-industry and entrepreneurship
to which youth are more likely to aspire towards(AGRA,2015). However, a number
of important factors are directly linked to exogenous institutional frameworks
which pose even more pressing questions about the impacts of general policy on
agricultures opportunities and development. A reoccurring theme as shown by the
coffee and cut flower industry is the need for flexible coordination between
stakeholders- including the state – in order to address both the
entrepreneurial and agricultural hurdles for young farmers (Chege,2012;
Bulkeley,2005). Developing and implementing appropriate strategies, policies
and programmes to mitigate the risks and challenges young people face must be
much more of a priority for the government than it currently is. Recognising the
diversity of rural youth’s livelihoods and the difficulties with ‘getting
agriculture moving’ sheds lights on the importance of including youth into agriculture
for overall rural growth and income poverty reduction (Diao et al,2007). Thus,
engaging Kenya’s youth population with the agriculture sector is no longer a
choice, but an imperative in the development process.