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Agriculture value addition conference for Mombasa

A workshop that will discuss how agricultural producers can focus more on consumer preferences to formulate their production and marketing strategies kicks off next week in Mombasa, with experts saying agribusiness is a key sector for spurring economic growth in Kenya.

The 7th BDS Conference kicks off on Wednesday 23rd November and runs for three days.  It will be preceded by a two-day training session on value chain analysis and promotion for small and medium enterprises.

The Head of EU delegation in Kenya Eric van der Linden, will be the chief guest at the opening of the conference, which is organised by the Micro Enterprise Support Program Trust (MESPT).

Global focus has been put on the SME sector as a vehicle to reduce poverty, but many small agribusinesses have failed to thrive due to lack of finance, business services, and improved inputs.

The training session aims to develop the region’s capacity for value chain analysis and promotion, with the hope that the pool of experts will help design market-based programmes for small businesses.

Product development, value addition, business environment, marketing and value chain financing in small and medium enterprises in horticulture, dairy and fisheries sub-sectors will be the focus of the conference.

The value chain approach, which considers the interplay between factors such as consumer market, trade logistics, packaging, processing and agricultural production has been touted as a major strategy towards raising the competitiveness of businesses.

In developing countries however, agriculture is dominated by smallholder farmers who produce limited surplus quantities, resulting in many barriers to marketing, which in turn result in high product assembly and marketing costs, high cost of access to modern inputs, slow uptake of technical innovations and vulnerability to weather-induced fluctuations.

While reduced transport costs, advances in communication and lower trade barriers have presented African nations with access to new markets, but at the same time creating the need to increase the quality of their goods and services.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), 75 percent of Africa’s labour force works in agriculture but the continent’s share of the world’s agricultural exports is below five percent.

Inefficiency is a key concern for the continent’s agriculture, with a worker’s productivity in Africa measuring $ 335, compared to a world average of $914.
MESPT’s programmes work with small businesses to facilitate access to training, skills development and financing.

Allan Muturi

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