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Meet Nikki, Kellyann and Peris and Rita – 4 young women imagining a future in agriculture

Nikki Chaudhary has a dream – to reshape the Indian dairy industry resulting in improved livelihoods for the millions of small scale dairy farmers across the country.

To realise her dream Nikki has begun a breeding program to create a herd of dairy cows that are more resilient and adapted to India’s hot and humid conditions. If successful the herd will produce large quantities of high fat milk throughout the year regardless of climate. This contrasts with the current situation where herds produce less milk during the summer and require additional, costly, care to survive the heat. Supported by the innovative GFAR/YPARD Young Agripreneurs Project (YAP) Nikki will be collecting valuable data, knowledge and experience over the next 18 – 24 months to share with small scale farmers, government agencies and not for profit organisations which, she hopes, will help influence policy and practice. Ultimately Nikki will begin selling the herd’s progeny to local farmers which will help them to stablise and grow their annual incomes.

Like Nikki, Kellyann (another YAP participant) wishes to transform her industry by encouraging farmers in Barbados to diversify their income streams by growing (organically) herbs that she would purchase to produce hydrosols and essential oils. The passion and motivation to execute this project stems from her desire to illustrate that agriculture can connect seemingly unrelated industries while attracting youth and more women in Barbados and the Caribbean to the sector. In just 12 months Kellyann has supported three local farmers to supply her with herbs and has secured sales from new customers in Barbados and the Caribbean.

Rita Kimani and Peris Bosire share Nikki and Kellyann’s ambition to catalyse transformational change. As young girls, both witnessed their families and communities toil away for months on end to produce meager harvests that did not produce any surplus funds to purchase or secure a loan to purchase much needed machinery and other inputs to improve productivity. In response to this “capital trap” they created FarmDrive, based in Nairobi, which is driven by their shared obsession with data and how it can be used to close the critical data gap that prevents financial institutions from lending to creditworthy smallholder farmers. They use SMS for everything from loan applications to record-keeping reminders and have learnt that farmers are most likely to reply to messages sent at 10am – when the cows are grazing!

This article originally appeared on Bill Downing’s LinkedIn.


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