Forum calls for acceleration of agricultural policy in Kenya

The first Agricultural Industry Forum (AIF) and exhibition was officially opened on March 3, 2020, at the Nairobi Hospital Convention Centre. The forum called on designing and incorporating more innovative technologies and increased investment by the private sector stakeholders in the agribusiness sector.

The conference main aim was to provide a national platform for discussions on how best to strengthen and sustain effective partnerships in the agricultural sector in the context of devolution.

Speaking at the opening of the Forum, Israel Ambassador to Kenya, H.E Oded Joseph stated that they will continue to partner with Kenya in undertaking agricultural activities. “Israel being a world leader in the field of agriculture, it will continue to be a significant partner in creating capacity-building opportunities between the two countries.”

He added that in order for an economy to be sustainable and economically viable, the business sector has to play a vital role, the youth have to be involved and basic infrastructures have to be set up to support the agriculture sector.

During the forum, the Chairman of Agricultural Industry Network, Mr. Edward Mudibo called on fast-tracking of the national agricultural policy, which revolves around the main objectives of increasing productivity and income growth, especially for smallholders; enhanced food security and equity, emphasis on irrigation to introduce stability in agricultural output, commercialization and intensification of production, especially among small scale farmers.

Mr. Mudibo noted that platforms, where the private sector, national and county government can activate new strategic partnerships, need to be created for transformational change within the Kenyan agribusiness sector. He also highlighted that governance and the role of cooperatives need to be rethought.

The other key message that came out of the forum was the need to make agriculture attractive to the youth so as to reduce the unemployment crisis. There was the need to develop guidelines for public-private partnerships(PPPs) between county government and the private sector, and actionable strategies to improve the agribusiness sector.

Moreover, the government will establish six agro-processing units within each economic bloc across the country. The units will be developed using a one-stop-shop rapid Public-Private Partnership(PPP) process for local and export markets.

Agricycle East Africa, CABE partners to empower women and youth in fruit agribusiness

On January 31, the Centre for African Bio-Entrepreneurship signed a partnership agreement with Agricycle East Africa Limited to empower smallholder farmers, women, and youth by creating market linkages for value-added fruits.

Agricycle East Africa Ltd is a social enterprise subsidiary of Agricycle Global specializing in fruit processing and marketing to create sustainable business relations for women empowerment.

The three-year agreement entails designing projects, resource mobilization, and creating collaborative platforms for learning and knowledge exchange on fruit agribusiness, women empowerment, deployment of technologies and equipment for fruit drying and capacity building.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Executive Director CABE, Dr. Hannigton Odame said “This MoU complements CABE’s activities in facilitating market linkages, capacity building and training, research, and policy processes. On the other hand, it allows Agricycle East Africa to partner with CABE-affiliated farmer groups to alleviate poverty through agri-preneurship and provide food safety and health standards in fruit processing and marketing activities.”

After signing the MoU, the two organizations will develop an implementation strategy alongside a resource mobilization strategy. In the first phase, the partners will engage farmer groups in Western Kenya and eventually scale-out in other counties, which produce plenty of fruits but have inadequate market linkages.

“We will now move to create an action plan for the first year of the MoU implementation and develop Standard Operating Procedures in efforts to mobilize resources and provide technical and social activities from each organization,” Agricycle East African Director, Mr. Patrick Nderitu stated.

Also, the two organizations will invest in women and youth empowerment to build their agribusiness skills, provide access to market linkages and access to agri-financing.

CABE successfully hosts APRA Annual workshop 2019

The Centre for African Bio-Entrepreneurship (CABE) successfully hosted the APRA Annual Review and Planning Workshop in Naivasha from 2-6 December 2019. Members of the three APRA workstreams and APRA Consortium, stationed at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), also participated.

The theme of this year’s workshop was Impact, Communications, and Engagement (ICE).  It aimed at reviewing tactics and strategies for communicating policy-relevant insights and evidence ‘nuggets’ emerging from the APRA studies to key stakeholders and clarifying pathways to impact.

During the workshop, the Accompanied Learning for Relevance and Effectiveness (ALRE) initiative was officially launched, which aims to improve engagement efforts, trace influence, and identify lessons for improving future programming within APRA.

Highlights from the workshop include: review of progress on APRA research activities during the year related to Work Stream 1 (panel studies), Work Stream 2 (longitudinal studies) and Work Stream 3 (policy studies). Presentation of policy-relevant insights evidence from the Work Stream studies related to the APRA Outcome Indicators and cross-cutting themes; clarification of engagement priorities and plans from the Participatory Impact Pathways Analysis (PIPA) and Theory of Change (ToC) workshops to bring about outcome-level change, and discussions on hosting APRA phase 2.

It was noted that there are high levels of commercialisation of oil palm in South-Western Ghana due to specialisation and highly stratified oil palm economy by gender, generation, and class.

Comparing food-based versus tobacco-led agricultural commercialisation in Zimbabwe, Vine Mutyasira observed that tobacco-led commercialisation resulted in higher returns leading to whole-farm productivity-enhancing investments in technologies, livestock, and assets.

In the case of long-term change in cocoa commercialisation in Ghana, Joseph Yaro mentioned that the private and state sector investment can boost access to technical innovation for intensification of production thus improved incomes for cocoa farmers.

From the longitudinal analysis of sunflower commercialisation in Singida, Tanzania, Christopher Magomba highlighted that the sustainability of sunflower commercialisation and productivity has led to low uptake of inputs such as fertiliser and seeds, low purchasing power; limited access to extension services leading to low yields and competition from alternative annual crops (maize, green gram).

Rice commercialisation has ensured household and the community food security and considerable change in the livelihood options for smallholder rice farmers in the Fogera plains of Ethiopia. This change contributed to rise in rice processors from 1 in 1997 to 123 in 2018, increased employment opportunities especially for casual labourers and interdependence of rice production and labour markets and 93% of the processors became rice sole proprietors recording average value of 360 thousand birr/processor. Whereas in Tanzania, intensification was mentioned as a solution to small and medium-scale farmers in rice commercialisation.

Speaking on the political economy of growth corridors and agricultural commercialisation, Ngala Chome, a PhD candidate, said, “There are diverse pathways to commercialisation along the growth corridors and they range from the establishment of estates/plantation to the creation of block farms and cooperative groups, to contract farming arrangements, which emerge through infrastructure development.” He added that ethnic politics play a critical role, as claims over resources are contested between indigenous groups and the state.

Presenting on behalf of Jodie and Seife, John Thompson mentioned that good incentives (e.g. financial guarantees) can increase the role of small to mid-sized enterprise (SME) agribusinesses in commercialisation pathways rather than policy uptake.

In order to empower the youth, the emphasis was placed on providing more programs or schooling to millions of young people in order to reduce rural-urban migration, the former highlighted in this Ghana-based youth engagement blog.

Looking ahead to Phase 2, DFID’s Howard Standen advised the team to be persistent and use personal relationships or existing champions, such as the African Union Commission, Advisory person, Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union Commission. Ethiopia, Dr. Janet Edeme and the ‘to push for regional and national debates contribution in agricultural commercialisation.

Regarding agricultural transformation and wealth creation, APRA can explore strategies for incorporating the ALRE initiative in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

Click here for information on the 2018 APRA Annual Review Workshop, held in Accra, Ghana.

By Mercy Nduati, CABE Communications Officer

Heavy downpour continues until December, KMD says

A heavy downpour expected to strike the entire country this week has been attributed to the unusual warming of the Indian Ocean.

The phenomenon, called the Indian Ocean Dipole, happens nearly every 10 years, unleashing destructive rains and flooding across East Africa.

More than one million people have been displaced in Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Tanzania – but scientists say more misery is coming.

Kenya’s Meteorological Department yesterday warned that beginning today a heavy deluge will sweep across the country.

Assistant Director of KMD Dr. David Gikungu had yesterday predicted the rains would begin last night, doubling in intensity tomorrow.

“The rainfall is expected to intensify to more than 40 millimeters in 24 hours from Thursday 21 to Sunday, November 24, 2019,” he said in a statement.

The warm weather and heavy rains are favorable for many crops. Weary tea farmers in central Kenya are currently sleeping in buying centers waiting for already strained factories to accept their bumper harvests for processing.

Yesterday, Dr. Gikungu put the entire country on alert, saying there was an up to 66 percent certainty more heavy rains are coming.

The Indian Ocean dipole, sometimes called the Indian El Niño, is an irregular change in the sea temperature in the western (near Kenya’s coast) and eastern (closer to Australia) areas of the Indian Ocean.

When the ocean around East Africa is far warmer than usual, there is higher evaporation and moist air flowing inwards into East African countries as heavy rains.

Scientists say this year the strength of the dipole is of a magnitude not seen in years, perhaps even decades.

“A strong positive Indian Ocean Dipole, which is currently +2.06 degrees, is quite favorable for enhanced rainfall in the country,” Met director Stella Aura said last month.

She predicted the current rainfall would continue until early December, with occasional dry breaks.

“Floodwaters may suddenly appear even in places where it has not rained heavily and can be deeper and faster than they look,” she said.

Aura also advised Kenyans to avoid driving through or walking in moving water or open fields and not take shelter under trees and near grilled windows to minimize exposure to lightning strikes.

She put on alert people in landslide‐prone areas, especially on the slopes of the Aberdare Ranges, Mt Kenya and other hilly areas in the western region.

Aura said that the ground is already saturated with water.

“This (rain) coupled with the already saturated grounds is likely to continue causing floods and landslides in affected parts of the country,” Aura said in a statement.

The IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre, based at Dagoretti Corner, also said above-average rainfall was expected to persist until December. The positive dipole, it said, was “likely” responsible.

The last major positive dipole was in 2006 when more than 300 people were killed in region-wide flooding caused by unseasonal rains.


Kisumu Governor embraces mini-farming in the cities

Kisumu Governor embraces mini-farming in the cities

Urban agriculture is a hot topic for discussion currently in the wake of African city development. The role of women food entrepreneurs who aim to meet the growing demands of fresh fruits and vegetables in city markets is paramount but they are struggling.

For many years agriculture in urban areas especially in towns and major cities of Kenya has been unthinkable since most of the supply is coming directly from rural areas neighboring the cities. However, through the collaboration of the Centre for African Bio-Entrepreneurship (CABE),  Victoria Institute for Research on Environment and Development (VIRED) and the University of Amsterdam, a study was put together to build inclusive business models for food security for city slums in Kisumu (Kenya) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) through the Women Food Entrepreneur (WFE) project.

Dr. Nicky Pouw of University of Amsterdam (center) and Dr. Hanington Odame of CABE (right) listens to one of the WFE group farmers from Nyalenda as they toured the various exhibitions at the WFE workshop in Kisumu

Dr. Nicky Pouw, the project team leader, when presenting about the project’s progress in a stakeholder workshop in Kisumu noted the achievements of the program. She outlined the great steps taken by farmers from various working groups. These include Balaaa group in Obunga to increase productivity using irrigation and improved farming methods; the success of Kibuye waste management CBO whose project of cleaning Kibuye market and making compost manure from the waste and the support the county government department of agriculture is undertaking to provide extension services, basic entrepreneurial training and value addition by means of food processing in the market.

The success story of this project was hailed by the governor who took to address the key policy issues raised by Dr. Nicky. First, he took to acknowledge his admiration of urban farming giving an example of his one-time trip to Singapore where he was amazed at the scale and magnitude of city farming in balconies of city flats making him a champion for urban farming. He also promised, in line with the policy messages, that the ongoing Kisumu geophysical and geo-spatial mapping and planning will take into account the identification and establishment of green spaces for food production and processing.

He also proposed a hybrid system where the green spaces exist within the city and also in the suburbs, through satellite gardens. Though, the Governor had reservations on the policy to promote animal husbandry in the city citing a large number of cattle freely roaming in the streets and causing havoc.

Gov. Anya’ng Nyong’o together with Prof JB Okeyo-Owuor of VIRED (left) addressing stakeholders at the WFE workshop in Kisumu on 14th February 2019 at Wi Pinje Resort, Kisumu.

The steps addressed by the governor opens the way for the various stakeholders in Kisumu, especially the women food entrepreneurs, to be directly involved in the urban planning process and urban development programs. lt is important to learn from their experiences and innovative methods to sustain ‘mini-farming’ in small spaces.

Hopefully, in the future, there is more opportunity to explore new partnerships of women food entrepreneur groups with the county government of Kisumu, Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI) and the business community (including banks)among others.

In taking this bold move to empower women, urban farmers of Kisumu, Professor the renowned Professor has proved once again as a maverick, that he is among the best governors promoting inclusivity and supporting research and development studies as evidence-base of well- informed policy decisions that will always uplift the city of Kisumu.

By John Okoth, CABE Program Assistant

Busia County to host Rice Research Centre

Busia County to host Rice Research Centre

In efforts to boost production and marketing, the Venezuelan government has funded the construction of a rice research institute in Budalang’i, Busia county. The Kshs. 400 million institute aims to develop new breeds for lowland rice ecologies and their major market segments, including good grain quality and tolerance to major biotic and abiotic stresses.

Rice is fast becoming a regular food in most Kenyan households. It is a strategic commodity and the fastest-growing food source in Africa.

According to a published post in the local dailies, Busia County will maximize its production through value addition and boost uptake of rice in the market. Also, it will create employment opportunities for the locals and identify the best rice varieties for specific regions in the county.

Previously, Busia farmers were forced to sell their produce at low prices for fear of incurring losses from poor storage and lack of proper mechanized facilities.

Busia will be the only county in Kenya to benefit from the funding from Venezuela Government together with Madagascar Island. Madagascar has already completed its project, while Kenya is still at the design stage. The Ministry of Public Works is expected to hand over the designs to the contractor once complete.

Currently, the consumption of rice is at 440,000 metric tons per year but Kenya is only producing 140,000 metric tons per year, meaning that the rest of the rice is imported to other countries like Pakistan and Thailand.

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