As crop production in the country especially smallholder moves beyond subsistence and assume modern and sophisticated trend, hunger for information from a new breed of farmers is at an all-time high.
These are serious investors who have eyes trained on specialist farming, some even with eyes for the lucrative but often strict export market, and are willing to part with a premium to invest in modern farming. It has given birth to telephone farming, a concept that aptly captures this new suave group that spends considerable time online hunting for information ranging from types of super crops to produce, sources of funding, ripe and rewarding markets for their produce and how to insulate themselves from potential farm risks.
But in a sea of information, and sometimes misleading, it has become increasingly tough to separate wheat from the chaff. Until now.
In tapping to this caliber of farmers, agro input company Elgon Kenya has partnered with respected institution of higher learning Strathmore Business School to create platforms that brings together agriculture investors to debate on the most strategic and productive ways of producing food and tackling the hiccups that stand in the way of having an innovative, commercially oriented and internationally competitive and modern agricultural sector.
The first phase of the partnership recently saw over 300 agribusiness investors congregate for the Inaugural Agribusiness Investors Summit which offered them an opportunity to engage with experts and acquire facts about the sector with a view to making informed choices.
It is a perfect sync between the two institutions that have for long been household names in the respective fields of agribusiness and research. While Elgon Kenya prides itself in having been actively involved in the agricultural sector for decades through trainings and provision of inputs and agronomic support that addresses modern day needs, Strathmore Business School boasts of unrivaled prowess in the field of research and training.
And with a huge appetite for data backed and relevant farming information from agribusiness investors in the country and beyond, this partnership couldn’t have come at a better time. Indeed in Sub Saharan Africa over 80 per cent of the population is involved in farming yet there are only 70 agricultural researchers for every one million people according to data from Alliance for a Green Revolution, AGRA.
This despite numerous studies showing the potential of Africa to create a multi-billion global food industry if it tapped into research in crop production.
It is a message that was aptly captured in the premier summit. “To better access financing, agribusiness investors should be keen on understanding the value chain of their produce as well as be cognizant of how various risks along the chain can be mitigated. Beyond production, successful farmers must begin with the market in mind. Bankable agribusiness proposals must illustrate their power to generate sustainable revenue,” one of the panelists at the summit reiterated.
The Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Dr. Fred Matiangi in his keynote address to the summit captured the essence of the training programs by pointing to the huge unexploited potential that exist in the telephone and urbane farmers who are keen to invest their resources to modern day farming.
It is a cause dear to Elgon Kenya, especially informed by the growing demand for food from a burgeoning population that is exerting pressure on food. This, even as farming land shrinks leaving farmers with few options.
Growing food therefore calls for a change of tact, into smart and unique models, driven by market research which is also seen to be rewarding food producers. It explains why Elgon Kenya has invested heavily in farming information hubs including the plant clinics, information centers and its vast agronomic support network. Because information is power.
At a time when Kenya looks to the agriculture sector as an anchor pillar to help it attain mid-level economic status by 2030, modern farming is a key panacea to attaining that dream. To work together towards this noble cause would call for collaborative efforts and partnerships to tap into new age farmers who will drive the agricultural renaissance. We are glad that Elgon Kenya partnership with Strathmore is already shaping this trend.