Nairobi,March 23,2018.John Karegwa is the executive director of Changemaker International, an organisation that promotes trade and investment opportunities between Europe and Africa. He speaks on opportunities in agribusiness that local farmers can explore
The country’s full potential in agribusiness to an extent remains untapped. What are the challenges?
Middlemen, weather and climate change, and low investment in the sector contribute much to what impedes the sector’s full potential.
Both the public and private sectors need to invest in this profitable sector, and the government should be involved too.
It’s disheartening that lending institutions such as banks easily give loans to real-estate investors, yet find it hard to offer the same services to farmers, fearing the risks involved yet every undertaking has risks.
Post-harvest loses, poor quality farming inputs and pests and diseases are other challenges that hamper this sector.
Farmers should form saccos and cooperative societies through which they can easily access markets without exploitation of middlemen and easy purchase of quality farm inputs.
How can agripreneurs cushion themselves from adverse effects of climate change?
Reliance on rain-fed farming is key in heightening the adverse effects of climate change on agriculture and agribusiness.
Investors in the sector should spend on modern innovative methods of farming such as using greenhouses, different forms of water-efficient irrigation, and artificial weather-controlled environment farming, among others.
Currently, when there is plenty of rainfall, farmers can also collect the water and store in dams, ponds, tanks and other similar water storage facilities.
This always comes handy in dry season when they need the water for their crops and other uses in the farm.
You are organising an agribusiness and horticulture stakeholders’ training and trade tour mission in the Netherlands from June 11 to 15. What is this all about, how can one participate in it and what does one stand to gain from this mission?
Dutch investors are willing to invest and advance our country’s agribusiness sector. Through this mission, Kenya’s stakeholders in agribusiness and horticulture will meet and interact with more than 150 multinational investors.
They will access new information and innovative technologies on farming and agribusiness, create linkages and rapports with the investors, find new markets for their produce and facilitation of support and sponsorship for their agribusinesses.
What benefits does one stand to achieve by investing in agribusiness?
Agribusiness is well capable of earning Sh1 million in returns. A small country such as Netherlands feeds its population and still remains the second largest exporter of agricultural and horticulture produces.
Such an economy obviously has the benefits trickling down to farmers, which makes them rich. Agribusiness essentially is a rewarding sector.
Which are the best agribusinesses to engage in, especially for the youth?
First, young people should be attracted to farming and agribusiness. Greenhouse farming is among the best bets to start with.
Crops such as pepper, capsicum and tomatoes, among others, are good to start with. As an organisation, we can facilitate the groups’ access to sponsorship and markets if it shows potential.
Bamboo farming is another good venture to invest in as the plant is versatile and never lacks markets. Pig keeping is yet another important project which youth can invest in.
For instance, Netherlands, a small country with a population of about 17 million people, has up to 10 million pigs, showing how important pig-keeping is important to the country’s economy.
Then there is avocado farming, which is among the most productive ventures globally at the moment, especially the Haas variety.
Locally, there is an organisation in Nairobi which is currently recruiting up to 10,000 contract farmers to supply them with Hass avocados. This is also a big opening for the youth to capitalise on.
What is your organisation all about and how does it work in building those seeking to engage in agribusiness?
Changemaker International is based in The Hague, Netherlands and it basically works in creating change in the agribusiness sector by connecting prospective agribusinesses with markets and investors globally.
We also disseminate information on better agribusiness strategies, create linkages for financing and organise missions for farmers’ exposure to better agribusinesses globally.
Source, Daily Nation