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4K Club returns to equip pupils with farming skills

By Harriet James
Tuesday, June 15th, 2021 00:00 | 4 mins read
President Uhuru vists one of the farm projects set up by students at ASK Showground recently. Photo/PD/HARRIET JAMES

Harriet James @harriet86jim

At Moi Girls School, Nairobi, student members of an agricultural club run various farming projects, such as vegetable gardening, pig and dairy farming, with which they supply vegetables, pork and milk to their school kitchen and the public.

“We also practice aquaponics, a combination of aquaculture, which is growing fish and other aquatic animals as well as drip irrigation and zero grazing units, all under the Young Farmers Club,” says Phyllis Wachiuri, the patron of the club.

Young Farmers Club (YFC) is an organised group of youth in a framework of developing farming practices in a school while improving on the leadership skills amongst them.

As a practicing farmer herself, Phyllis started inculcating the passion for farming in her students when she joined the school as an agriculture teacher.

The fact that the girls came from urban areas made hers a challenging venture, but with time they began loving the subject.

“We started with about 20 students, but today the number has grown to 90. I am glad they have embraced farming so much that they are willing to practice what they are learning in their homes,” she smiles.

So you can imagine her relief when the Ministry of Agriculture approved plans to revive the once popular 4K Club across the country early this year, which was preceded by the president’s launch recently. 

Income generating activity

Well, those who went to school in the 80s and early 90s are familiar with the term 4K Club.

Through the club, primary school children learnt skills, such as crop growing and rearing of livestock, such as rabbits, chicken, goats and growing horticultural crops for lessons and schools generated some income from them.

The 4Ks stood for Kuungana, Kufanya, Kusaidia Kenya in Kiswahili, a clarion call to keep the country food secure. However, in the mid-90s, the concept died off, amid many failed attempts to revive it. 

Phyllis believes one of the reasons the clubs failed in the past was due to lack of support from the ministry.

“Schools, too, did not have the finances to run the clubs, hence their ultimate death.

Agriculture, as a subject was also not given priority in schools and instead, other activities, such as games and music were supported,” she says.

An elated Phylis says President Uhuru Kenyatta’s promise to support the clubs in schools will go a long way in promoting young farmers across the country.

YFC has an enrolment of 110 students. And I know after this launch, the number will rise exponentially,” she says.

Eric Mogire, the patron of YFC in Muvuti Boys Secondary School says revitalisation of their club, which had become dormant will take agriculture to the next level.

“Our club was not active, but now there will be some improvement. In the past we were being locked in school and couldn’t move out to interact with other clubs and learn from each other.

It reached a point the boys lost interest in the club’s activities because they were not going for field trips or doing exchange programmes with students from other schools to learn about farming,” he notes. 

Eric is proud of the fact that the school already has three farming projects under YFC to start them off, including pigs whose meat is supplied to nearby butchers, cattle and 200 chickens, which supply dairy, meat and eggs to the school and the neighbouring community.

“Agriculture is a practical subject. The reintroduction of 4K Club will give students a chance to practice what they have learnt in class, as well as boost our already existing YFC projects” he offers.

During the launch of the club at the ASK Showground at Jamuhuri Park in Nairobi, President Kenyatta said the introduction of the club in schools is part of the government’s plan to have agriculture as a key economic activity in the country.

“The world’s population of young people aged between 15 and 24 years is over 1.2 billion making them the most valuable resource.

This resource can, however, only be tapped if they are provided with high quality education, imparted with relevant skills and training, are healthy and are provided with an enabling opportunity to be part of the social and economic transformation,” the President stated. 

Through consultations and after talking to learners across the country, Anne Nyaga, the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) in the agriculture ministry said the ministry found 11 key strategic issues that were hindering the youths from pursuing agriculture.

For instance, negative perception, inadequate financing, lack of knowledge, information and skills, were some of the critical issues that came up.

“We designed programmes that are responsive, to be able to address the particular challenges,” she shared. 

“The new 4K Club will deal with attitude change. Through club support, the child’s interest in agriculture will be developed at primary to secondary level, and even after school there are various programmes that have been designed to help them grow agriculture-wise.

They can be able to choose agriculture as a career, because they have already transitioned to the critical formative stages, as it will not be the first time they will be interacting with agriculture,” she added. 

Expanded scope of club

The CAS added that the remodeled 4K Clubs will have several aspects that are relevant in modeling the modern-day child.

The government has expanded the scope of the new 4K Club to cover climate change, novel diseases, environmental conservation, healthy living as well as civic engagement.

The new model is created to build a holistic child who is able to make a contribution to the society.

It will entail the president who is the patron, the CS and the various governors. There is also the 4K Club guide manuals and website to support the club activities. 

“There is also a presidential award scheme where we’ll have the best performing clubs being awarded nationally by the president, the governors at county level and the patron at school level. 

Sub-county and ward agricultural officers will award the students at the sub-county and ward level,” she explained.

 A youth unit too has been constituted in the ministry accountable to the CS responsible for the overall coordination of the programme, the governors and the various ministries that they are collaborating with, such as the ministries of Education, IT and Environment. 

Implementation of the programme will be done in various phases. The first phase will be done in five years and will cover 20 per cent of primary schools in the country.

In this phase, there will also be formation of targeted 6,000 new clubs and revival of the dormant ones, which  will be centres of excellence, which are in turn expected to nurture other schools.

Harriet James