Noah Nasiali, a farmer in eastern Kenya, is using social media to bring together farmers throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Through his Facebook group, Africa Farmers Club, Nasiali is uniting 128,000 Africans to discuss farming hardships and solutions. Since the groups’ origin in early 2018, Nasiali began organizing local workshops about soil testing, seed maintenance in certain climates, and other farming practices led by expert farmers.
Nasiali talks about some of these local events with Food Tank. “Farmers are coming out and telling their stories. We are getting the right information, we have experts, we organize food discussions every week. Either a crop, a challenge that farmers are facing…we have live interviews with experts in the industries and expert farmers. The most important part of it is that it is a farmer-owned and farmer-led initiative, and farmers tend to prefer to listen to other farmers who have experience.”
As a young farmer, Nasiali experienced hardships common in farming when one of his clients abandoned a sale during harvest season, leaving him with nowhere to sell 75,000 cabbages. Searching for emotional support as well as advice on managing his excess supply of the crop, he turned to the internet. While he found a few groups designed for discussion among African farmers, none of them highlighted real farmer experiences. “With all these Facebook groups and all this information and all these schools and professors and colleges, how come people are not addressing the plight of the farmer?” Nasiali says to Food Tank.
One of the biggest struggles for farmers in Kenya is coping with failure. “There is something they used to say, ‘You have to fail to succeed in farming.’ How come that is not a saying in any other business?” Nasiali continues, “I am seeing the change is fast. Farmers are getting information, sharing information from the right sources.” The Africa Farmers Club has moved beyond Facebook and now provides live educational seminars to educate farmers on proper farming techniques. This allows them to be better equipped for any challenges they may face, from growing seed to selling in market.
“The small part that has changed is that now farmers are actually sharing information. Farmers are understanding what to buy…One of the most important things that I am seeing is that farmers are testing their soils. Because without testing your soil, you may keep putting on the wrong fertilizer. Farmers are asking questions like when do I plant which variety in this part of Africa, or, I only have $500, what can I start farming with? How profitable will it be?”
Nasiali is confident that young people are excited to continue the farming tradition in Kenya and throughout Africa. “I get at least 200 to 300 messages every day and I can say with confidence at least 80 percent are young people.” Though farming does have the reputation of being a taxing and difficult job, Nasiali believes today’s young people “are seeing not only myself but other farmers succeeding and coping with the challenges that are there and also finding new ways of solving the challenges.” The success of the Africa Farmers Club instills confidence and hope for African farmers to farm intelligently.