Finnish Mission Kenya (Fida International) and Hame University of Applied Sciences (HAMK) in partnership with 2 NGO’s (KENAFF and Wendo Dandelion) and 3 Universities (Egerton University, University of Nairobi, and South Eastern Kenya University) researched the concept of an open university in offering equal opportunity for skills development in agricultural entrepreneurship in Kenya with an overall aim of seeking to understand the regulatory framework governing training in agriculture.
More than 60% of the Kenyan adult population are farmers or depend on small-scale subsistence farming. Despite this, food insecurity remains high due to inadequate farming techniques and food loss through the food value chain. This is caused by limited knowledge of conservation farming and the value chain. Improving the agricultural sector through knowledge and skills includes recognizing the role of women, youth, and persons living with disabilities (PLWD) in agriculture, which is a central leverage point in addressing this challenge.
Most accredited educational institutions in Kenya do not provide training to the broader agricultural communities, particularly women, youth, and PLWD engaged. Similarly, those interested in farming at the grassroots level do not have access to quality accredited and certified entrepreneurship training or upgrade their entrepreneurship skills without enrolling in a formal education system.
This research experiment focused on investigating the regulatory framework and environment for open university learning in Kenya, identifying the needs and profiles of potential beneficiaries. It also mapped and profiled the capabilities of the implementing NGO’s and collaborating universities to determine the feasibility of open learning in Kenya. 19 technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions and 568 youth and women were included in the research sample.
The research established that universities and TVET institutions had the capacity and infrastructure, including technology, to implement agricultural certificate training programs through open university learning.
Similarly, the research established the existence of comprehensive agricultural training programs for skills development in agribusiness and entrepreneurship skills by development organizations. Further, NGO’s have a unique capacity to target and mobilize marginalized and disadvantaged members of communities for capacity building in agriculture through Open learning. The experiment also established the existence of a desire to acquire agribusiness skills through open learning among women PLWD, and youths
There is a need to experiment with the research findings on open learning in agricultural entrepreneurship with youth, PLWD, and women who are already practicing agriculture collaboratively with TVET institutions and universities for certification.