- The deal has been actualised through the AgriBiz Programme funded by the European Union and the Danish government.
- A business incubation hub will be created in Machakos where youths will be trained on agribusiness.
The Machakos county government has signed a deal with Kenya Climate Innovation Centre to promote agribusiness among youth and women.
The deal has been actualised through the AgriBiz Programme funded by the European Union and the Danish government to the tune of Sh5.1 billion.
The programme will benefit 2,400 women and youths and create over 17,000 jobs in the next five years.
A business incubation hub will be created in Machakos where youths will be trained on agribusiness. Beneficiaries will be trained and provided with business advice as well as financing by KCIC.
The Machakos county government will work with KCIC to promote agribusiness ventures through inclusive polices, access to facilities and information.
AgriBiz will help beneficiaries by addressing capacity gaps, inadequate financing, as well as the lack of an enabling business environment for women and youth.
EU ambassador to Kenya Simon Mordue who spoke during the signing of the MoU at the Machakos county government headquarters on Tuesday said investing in agriculture will help bring a new generation on the farms that appreciate agriculture as a challenging but rewarding business.
“Too often, the image of farming is the end-to-end production of staple crops and livestock, often as hand-to-mouth subsistence farming as most farmers do not treat agriculture as a business. This narrative will change once proper investments are made in the agriculture sector,” he said.
The EU ambassador was accompanied by his Danish counterpart Ole Thonke among other KCIC officials. They were hosted by Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua.
Thonke said the AgriBiz Programme is designed to identify appropriate entry points for youths and women along agriculture value chains, noting that they face challenges in accessing agribusiness opportunities.
“We must acknowledge that the youth and women face special challenges in accessing business opportunities in agriculture. Unlocking these economic opportunities is critical to strengthening the sustainable agricultural sector and food security that will result in job creation and increasing incomes. The new hub will create a space to bring innovation and transformative ideas to life,” Thonke said.
Mutua said the county government is encouraging farmers to adopt measures including water harvesting, dry planting, intercropping, use of drought-tolerant varieties, irrigation, value addition and use of indigenous knowledge in post-harvest handling and disease control to boost production.
“Increased productivity in the agriculture sector is a step towards enhancing food security in the country which goes in tandem with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda. My administration will ensure the success of the AgriBiz project to benefit more farmers and enhance agriculture in the region. We are delighted to have partnered with EU, Danida and KCIC in this noble project,” he said.
KCIC chief executive Edward Mungai said they have already received numerous applications from youths and women in Machakos county.
“This programme will truly bring the youth and women in agribusiness a ray of sunshine. Already, we received a number of applications from this county at the central hub, and we are encouraged by the kind of agricultural practices and innovations exhibited by these youths and women,” Mungai said.
Agriculture sector is a major contributor to economic growth in Kenya. About 75 per cent of Kenyans derive their livelihood from the sector. It accounts for 33 per cent of the nation's gross domestic product, according to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
However, many farmers still operate on a subsistence scale due to limited access to finance, inadequate access to quality inputs, reliance on rain-fed approaches and limited access to reliable markets.
Machakos county enjoys favourable climatic conditions suitable for various agricultural activities. The county is famous for its mangoes, oranges, avocados, macadamia and other fruits.
Edited by Henry Makori