When Caleb Karuga, a young farmer in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, started to document his activities a few years ago and share them on social media, his aim was to educate his followers.
But he has since turned into a celebrity, amassing thousands of followers on social media and getting invites to farmer forums and media stations to speak about youth agribusiness issues.
Karuga has his smartphone and social media to thank for his newfound fame that is changing his fortunes and helping to encourage hundreds of young people in the east Africa nation to become farmers.
He is among a growing number of young farmers in Kenya who have become celebrities due to farming as they document their activities using their smartphones and post them on social media sites.
The gadgets, coupled with vibrant use of social media, have created a new crop of young celebrity farmers that are acting as agricultural ambassadors.
“I started coriander farming with 200g sowed 47 days ago and now they are ready for harvesting,” wrote Brian Korir on social media site Twitter.
The post, accompanied by photos and a video, was circulated tens of times as some people congratulated him and others booked to buy the product.
For Rodger Kirwa, his farming activities have earned him over 67,000 followers on social media sites.
“Agriculture not only gives riches to a nation but the only riches she can call her own,” writes Kirwa on Twitter, a post that has been shared thousands of times.
George Karithi, a tomato farmer in Kitengela, south of Nairobi, said on Saturday that smartphones and social media have become part and parcel of life, but for a farmer, they are more than that.
“To me, they are a true friend, a companion, a source of information, a record-keeper and a gateway to the market,” he said.
Documenting his activities using his smartphone and posting them on social media has earned him tens of followers on social media.
“The other day I hosted five youthful farmers who visited my farm for lessons on tomato farming and this is because of the photos I posted in a WhatsApp group,” he said, adding they earned him instant admiration.
Like many other farmers, he sells most of his produce online thanks to the photos he takes with his smartphone and posts on social media.
Kenyan livestock keepers have also not been left behind. In smartphones, they have found an easy way to earn a following by taking their photos and posting them on social media not only to celebrate their jobs but also to seek market.
Beatrice Macharia, an agronomist with Growth Point agro-consultancy, attributed the current surge in interest in farming by Kenyan youths to the celebrity farmers.
Social media platforms in Kenya are currently awash with young farmers engaging in different farming activities and making money out of them.
In the past, the youth would never have been caught farming because the trade was considered dirty and was mainly done by the elderly.
“There is a silent change that is taking place on the farms in Kenya and the youths are the ones who are driving it because of smartphones and social media,” she said. Enditem