Posted By Techjaja Staff (Written by)
Julius Cheruiyot has been a farmer since he was 16 years old. Forced to drop out of school because his family was unable to pay the fees, he went to work on his father’s farm in Uasin Gishu county, in Kenya’s Rift Valley region.
Today, Cheruiyot, 32, is a father of three who can afford to feed and educate his family by cultivating his own land. But as increasingly unpredictable weather in Kenya makes life difficult for subsistence farmers, he has joined a number of younger farmers who are using social media to learn how to cope.
Standing on his 5-acre (2-hectare) plot of land, Cheruiyot pulls out his mobile phone, clicks on a Facebook tab, and logs in to the page of Young Volunteers for the Environment (YVE), a group that posts updates
on the latest news about the environment and climate change.
“Social media … has assisted us a lot,” he says. “(With) the information we receive, we can now know the right time to plant our crops, because sometimes we realise it’s a short rain not a long rain,
and end up incurring losses (if we don’t take the right action).”
Changing weather patterns in recent years have affected most farmers in Kenya and other parts of eastern Africa.
Over the past 10 years, Cheruiyot says, he has seen drastic changes in the local climate, whether low rainfall during the planting season or heavy rains at harvest time, resulting in low yields or completely
He learned about Young Volunteers for the Environment at an agricultural exhibition. “I decided to join the group and since then I have learned (about) various aspects of climate change and how to cope with it as a young farmer,” he explains.
YVE is the Kenyan chapter of a pan-African organisation founded in Togo in 2011. The group is concerned about declining agricultural production, which contributes to food insecurity and poverty in the region. Its goal is to help young farmers understand the best way to practise sustainable farming and increase their productivity.
“(YVE) engages youth across the country in environment and climate change issues that make a positive impact in the life of the community by enabling communities to effectively adapt to the effects of the
rapidly changing climate,” according to Emmanuel Serem, the organisation’s president.