African and Canadian Youth Connect on Urban Food Security
By Kamba Ankunda, Overseas Program Officer, Rooftops Canada
"This exchange has really changed my mindset about urban farming. I now realize how much savings I would be making if I grew my own vegetables in my own backyard."
Harrison Njoroge, youth participant from Nakuru, Kenya
Rooftops Canada facilitated a youth-focused exchange of knowledge and skills on urban food security and agriculture in Nairobi and Nakuru, Kenya in late January and early February 2012. The exchange was hosted by our long-time partner Mazingira Institute. Two youth urban farmers each from Toronto, Canada and Cape Town, South Africa, worked with five youth from the National Cooperative Housing Union (NACHU) living in Nakuru, and ten young people from the farmers network that Mazingira Institute supports in Nairobi.
The program mixed workshop sessions and practical work in farming and food processing at different youth farm locations in and around Nairobi. The whole group also travelled to Nakuru, Kenya’s 4th largest city to see the urban food related livelihood activities practiced by the housing co-op youth. Topics ranged from “how to start” urban farming to “how to market and earn” from it. By the end of the exchange, the Nairobi youth farmers were interested in setting up their own housing co-op, and the Nakuru housing co-op youth were intent on processing more of their products to get a higher value from selling them.
Christopher Wong, a member of the Toronto-based Young Urban Farmers Community Shared Agriculture said: “It was interesting to see the number of farmers who are looking outside of seasonal constraints in growing different vegetables.... Other interesting things we learnt about included water harvesting, bio gas production, and small scale livestock production.”
At the wrap up session, each participant made personal commitments to put the skills and knowledge they acquired into practice. One of the Cape Town youth is already expanding production in the community garden she has organized at a local school. We will be sharing with you the reports detailing the youths’ activities and the next steps on our website.
Click here for more information and photos on the exchange.