How Australian Dreams Threaten Kenya’s Food Security
In the vast North Rift region, where the golden fields of agriculture stretch as far as the eye can see, the aspirations of parents echo the universal dream – providing the best education for their children.
In recent years, a distinctive trend has emerged as parents, with unwavering determination, have set their sights beyond borders, opting to send their children to Australian universities for a brighter future.
While the pursuit of knowledge is commendable, the sacrifices made by these parents are profound, often involving the sale of substantial portions of their land.
In Cherangani constituency, Trans-Nzoia County, over 300 parents have parted with their valuable acres, their dreams woven into the fabric of their children’s aspirations. The most affected counties are Uasin Gishu and Trans-Nzoia, which are Kenya’s major breadbaskets.
Samuel Ngeny, a former councilor in Cherangani, stands as a testament to the sacrifices made in the pursuit of overseas education.
Mr Ngeny, having watched his daughter face the struggle of unemployment after completing her nursing studies at the Kenya Medical Training Institute, took a bold step.
He sold two acres of his land, garnering Ksh2.5 million to support her journey to Scots College in Australia, where she now pursues a degree in nursing.
“My daughter had studied nursing for three and a half years at KMTC. After graduating, she languished at home for three more years due to a lack of employment. Faced with this stark reality, I decided to sell a portion of my land to facilitate her studies abroad,” said Mr Ngeny.
Mr Ngeny, left with a mere three acres out of the original five, expresses concern about the impact on agricultural production.
The subdivision of fertile lands for funding overseas studies, a recurring theme among parents, has the potential to jeopardise food security in the region.
“If this trend is not halted, the country may soon face a severe food crisis. With rampant subdivision, we risk not producing enough to meet our demand,” warns the former politician.
Mr Ngeny calls upon the government to intervene, proposing a lifeline for parents in the form of loans. He suggests that these financial aids could be repaid by the students themselves once they secure employment abroad, where part-time jobs often accompany academic pursuits.
“These students engage in part-time work while studying. We urge the government to devise ways to help them raise the necessary funds, which they can then repay once they have settled,” Mr Ngeny advocates, his plea resonating with the collective hopes of parents caught in the delicate balance between dreams and reality.
In the face of challenges, there is a glimmer of hope. Mr Ngeny, despite the hardships, acknowledges the dividends reaped as his daughter, a year into her Australian journey, begins remitting funds to her parents.
As the North Rift navigates the delicate equilibrium between education dreams and agricultural sustainability, the story unfolds—a narrative of sacrifice, hope, and the intricate dance between the aspirations of today and the realities of tomorrow.