Women and Youth in Kisii County have been urged to embrace Agribusiness as a way of improving their livelihoods.
Speaking during a policy dialogue forum for Kisii County AgriBiz programme at a hotel in Kisii town, the CEC Member of Agriculture, Esman Onsarigo, declared that the county is ready to make agriculture fashionable again.
Kenya Climate Innovation Centre convened the policy dialogue forum to foster exchanges among stakeholders (policymakers, the private sector, and youth and women engaged in agribusiness) on knowledge and best practices on women and youth entrepreneurship in agribusiness, leading to prioritised interventions going forward.
The CEC said, “Youth in Kisii, the time has come for you to be agricultural billionaires. The era of farming small pieces of farmland by lone farmers is no longer dot to the Kisii landscape. Agriculture is the best business that anyone can ever practice. If you want to grow and do well in life, try agribusiness.”
AgriBiz is a programme that gives agriculture a new face. It stimulates the growth of women and youth-owned enterprises in the agribusiness sector. Being implemented by KCIC, the programme is supported by the European Union and Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Danida). Kisii County is among the eight counties where the programme is being implemented.
Onsarigo stated that the County Government has engaged around 700 youth within the agribusiness sector. He added that several youths have already received financing to scale their enterprises.
He expressed the county’s readiness to work closely with Kenya Climate Innovation Centre to ensure the success of the AgriBiz programme among women and youth in the area.
“As a commitment from the County government, we have given KCIC an office in the county to conduct business incubation for our people. Indeed we have started seeing the fruits of this program supporting women and young people to establish businesses in agriculture.”
The AgriBiz incubation hub is located at the Kisii Agricultural Training Centre. The hub will serve as a centre to promote business development services, including technical assistance, access to facilities, land and other resources and factors of agricultural production.
The CEC agriculture in Kisii also asked the Ministry of Trade in the county to move with speed in opening markets in the agricultural value chain, swiftly give licenses and levies to young people and women practising agribusiness.
“The Agricultural Ministry will put in place policies that cater to the needs of individual farmers in Kisii; assisting with federal funds, technical know-how, hastening the adoption of modern and mechanised farming methods across the county, identifying and developing potential markets for our farmers.”
During the policy dialogue, most farmers highlighted a lack of market access and mispricing of products as a primary challenge to grow their agribusiness ventures. “As a small-scale farmer, I do not have the muscle to advertise and promote my products in the market. In addition, the dependency on brokers leads to the exploitation of farmers and the mispricing of commodities. We need encouragement from the county to access markets and promote local consumption,” said Vincent, a local farmer present during the meeting.
To ensure market access, the CEC urged participants to buy Kisii to build Kisii. He also encouraged farmers to take agriculture seriously and move to value addition.
“As a county, we are developing a banana processing plant which will be a direct market for our banana farmers. I invite all agricultural participants to visit our county departments to partner in writing funding proposals. County officials and stakeholders are open to helping farmers thrive and transform the sector,” Onsarigo added.
“The sheer size of Kisii’s population is economic power. Therefore, Kisii’s internal economies alone should translate into the “Kenya’s food security dream” for its people,” he said.
The Kisii County Government has promised that farming will no longer be the fallback-to occupation for the majority of the rural dwellers. Strategic plans to revitalise every subset of the agricultural sector of the county will not only uplift and immensely improve the social and economic status of today’s impoverished farmers, rural dwellers, individuals and communities, it will also attract graduates and youths in general to view agriculture as the high paying jobs of the future.
AgriBiz in Kisii County therefore hopes to onboard 100 women and youth to incubate their agribusiness ventures. The deadline for the call of applications is 12th November 2021. Interested persons can pick the application forms at the Kisii ATC or visit the KCIC website and submit their applications online at : https://agribiz.kenyacic.org/apply/