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Farmer Lifeline Wins 2023 Vijana na AgriBiz Competition

  • By KCIC Communications
  • November 27, 2023
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  • 622 Views

Farmer Lifeline Technologies, an AI solar-powered device that can detect and predict crop pests and diseases, and instantly notify farmers, is the winner of the KCIC Vijana Na AgriBiz Competition, 2023 edition. The device not only notifies a farmer on any pests and diseases, but also makes recommendations on appropriate fertilisers or farm chemicals that should be applied, as well as notifying the closest government agricultural officers for them to take quick action in time.

Esther Kimani delivered the killer pitch that saw her bid to give farmers a lifeline get an emphatic nod from the judging panel. She clinched the ultimate KES 1 Million grant for the groundbreaking innovative agribusiness idea, set to change how we approach agriculture. “This win is not just for us but for every dreamer who believes in the power of agriculture to change lives. The Vijana Na AgriBiz Competition has given us the platform to turn our vision into reality, and we are ready to make a lasting impact,” jubilant Esther remarked.

Coming second was CropScan Enterprise, who received a grant fund worth KES 750,000. All the way from Garissa County was Oshabe Enterprise who came third, with a grant prize of KES 500,000. They are addressing adversity in the County with their innovation, “Mathenge Maisha”. This initiative utilizes the local Mathenge tree to produce nutritious animal feed, providing a solution to hunger and pasture scarcity in arid and semi-arid regions. Notably, this innovation thrives without rain, making it particularly impactful in the regions with water scarcity.

From 31 October to 10 November, the vibrant 4th edition of the Vijana na AgriBiz competition captivated the agribusiness space, drawing young innovative entrepreneurs, farmers, investors, and agriculture enthusiasts from across the country. The immersive competition unfolded in a series of engaging activities, commencing in August with a call for applications which attracted a record 2,900 applicants, followed by an eligibility screening that saw 40 applicants shortlisted. A virtual bootcamp training and investor readiness sessions followed, narrowing down the field to 24 contenders. The semi-finals held on 7 November witnessed intense pitches, leading to the selection of the top 10 finalists who competed for the top three positions.

Vijana na AgriBiz competition is an initiative of the KCIC AgriBiz programme and is aimed at tapping into the agribusiness potential held by women and youth in Kenya. It is also underpinned by the need to incentivize this demographic to embrace agriculture and unlock the infinite opportunities it holds.

In Kenya, a country with a rapidly growing youthful population, there are both challenges and opportunities as the nation grapples with pressing issues such as unemployment, food insecurity, and low industrialisation. Statics indicate that the average age of a farmer is 50 years and above, with the youth mostly shying away from agriculture. It is crucial to harness the potential of this demographic dividend to achieve inclusive growth by empowering and creating an enabling environment. The Vijana Na Agribiz competition aims to solve this very problem. “After four years of the KCIC AgriBiz programme, there’s sufficient proof that the transformation of the country’s food security, creation of job opportunities in agricultural value chains, and the unlocking of rural and pre-urban economic potential through agribusiness, is not a far-fetched dream but a possibility,” said Murabula Joseph, the Chief Executive Officer, Kenya Climate Innovation Center.

In his remarks during the awarding of the winners, Jabez Mutune, the AgriBiz Programme Manager expressed his confidence in the top ten enterprises, and their market potential and scalability. All the ten are now set to join the next cohort of the AgriBiz programme.

As the curtains came down, Dominic Kinuthia, Credit Specialist and one of the judges, shared his sentiments on the initiative, saying, “It was indeed very difficult to decide on the winning enterprises in such a competitive event by these brilliant young minds.” He highlighted the importance of youth involvement in economic activities, particularly in agriculture, and commended the innovative technologies and mechanization showcased during the competition. Other contenders in the top ten included ADISIA Taste Buddies, Agri-Tech Africa, Jirru Poultry Farm, Agrosmart Initiative, Agricore International technologies, Ngeli Foods, and TeRIC.

Beyond celebrating innovation, Vijana na AgriBiz serves a larger purpose in advancing resilient and sustainable climate adaptation strategies in Kenya. By fostering economic opportunities for creative, youth-owned businesses, the program aims to inspire a new generation of Kenyan youth and women to embrace a sustainable, climate-resilient future.

The AgriBiz Program, launched on March 6, 2020, by KCIC, the European Union, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, is designed to promote the expansion of women and youth-owned agribusinesses. The program’s overall goal is to support 2,400 such enterprises, providing over 17,000 job opportunities along agricultural value chains in Kenya.