Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) which is the implementing partner signed a five-year contract with the two development agencies that would see the Kshs. 5.1 billion programme support 2,400 women and youth-led agribusiness enterprises across the country and lead to the creation of 17,000 job opportunities.
Kilifi County County Executive Committee Member (CECM) in charge of the agriculture department Luciana Sanzua, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Kenya Climate Innovation Center making Kilifi the eighth county to have signed the Memorandum of Understanding under the programme to promote the growth and development of the agribusiness sector through provision of financing and capacity development assistance to youth and women-led Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).
The signing ceremony was held at the Kilifi County Government headquarter offices.
Under the programmes’ radar will be the provision of training, coaching and mentoring in entrepreneurship and business skills needed to develop and run successful agricultural enterprises for youth and women in Kilifi and the surrounding counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Taita Taveta and Tana River.
In addition to the capacity-building activities, AgriBiz programme will provide support in identifying market opportunities and value-adding activities, building links to markets, gaining access to financial support and policies development.
“Financing agribusiness can increase the added value of agriculture, strengthen local economies, food security and nutrition and improve the quality of life in many homes at risk of exclusion and vulnerability, especially for women and youth which are the focus of this programme” Simon Mordue, the European Union Ambassador to Kenya said.
Adding that: “We want to see that the agribusiness potential in this coastal region is fully exploited and the indigenous agricultural practices improved to meet modern global standards.”
According to the County Government, more than half of the land in Kilifi County is arable. Natural pastures form almost half of the county farmland while subsistence farming takes up 21%. A paltry 1.5% is under commercial crop production. Main food crops grown include cassava, maize, cowpeas, rice and green grams. Fruits such as mangoes, pineapples and bananas are also grown as horticultural crops including cashew nuts and coconuts. Ranching and agriculture contribute significant amounts of income to the economy of Kilifi. These will provide opportunities for agribusiness.
The Danish Ambassador to Kenya, H.E Ole Thonke has applauded the partnership between the two institutions. He said, “Signing of this MOU paves way for support to women and youth in growing sustainable businesses within the agriculture sector. Denmark and EU are confident that the AgriBiz programme will not only provide the requisite support in terms of financing and technical advice to youth and women in this region but will also act as a motivation to pursue commercial venture within agriculture in the country at large.”
CECM Luciana Sanzua, termed the partnership as a means to diversify the economic activities in the country.
“Kilifi County has a huge potential in agribusiness and this partnership is a frontier for our farmers to benefit fully. I am urging our women and youth to embrace this opportunity to ensure the sustainability of our county,” the CECM said. “My administration remains committed through the department of agriculture and that of youth affairs to promoting agricultural practices especially those that will put an extra coin and improve the livelihoods of the people in this coastal region.”
Youth involvement in agriculture has been low, among both males and females. This is mainly due to a negative attitude towards agriculture. AgriBiz programme intervention will help address this challenge, increase employment and provide support needed to develop agriculture, which will empower youth in the counties.
“Agriculture provides the highest potential to create employment and offers most jobs to youth. However, this potential is untapped because most of the farmers practice subsistence farming which makes the youth see agriculture as unattractive and dirty venture or business to participate in,” Dr. Edward Mungai, the Chief Executive Officer at KCIC has said.
“Kenya Climate Innovation Center through the support of the European Union and Danida will open a Business Incubation Hub in this region that will offer financing and technical services to youth and women in this region; It is my hope that we get to impact as many livelihoods as possible even as we seek to create more than 17,000 jobs across the country through this programme,” he added.