A Kenyan professor has called for the overhaul in the funding structure of agriculture across Africa for it to benefit the vast majority of the population engaged in it.
Prof Henry Bwisa from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology says the sector has sufficient funding but the model adapted to spread the cash is wrong and not growing the sector.

“The mode of funding is not appropriate, value chain financing needs to be planned well by concentrating money in one value chain,” said Bwisa during an agribusiness and incubation youth camp in Kampala over the weekend. He explained that money should not be scattered to every chain from production to the finished product but should be concentrated in one successful segment of the chain.

“Then the people in the successful chain then support the subsequent chains because they need the lower chains to complete the value chain,” noted Bwisa.

The Incubation of young people conducted at Kyoto resort in Namugongo was supported by Association for Strengthening Agriculture Research in East and Central Africa (ASARECA), Consortium for enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development (CURAD) and a host of other research and value addition institutions in the region.

Bwisa challenged incubators among them AfriBanana who are extracting different high value products from the banana plant to come up with products that are specific and can be supported by financial institutions.

“This is key because financial institutions are not willing to put their money in incubatees,” noted Bwisa.

Dr Joseph Methu from ASARECA said research will reach end users by engaging agribusiness through incubation with the current focus on two crops- the banana and sorghum.

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The team of researchers agreed that commercialization of agriculture through use of technology is still key as opposed to trading at production level.

“Avenues for derisking and testing ideas should be created to ensure continuity,” read a resolution from the incubators.

The agriculture sector employs the biggest chunk of the African populace. But much of its practice is still subsistence, with little use of fertilizers and pesticides- factors that have hampered the full actualization of the value of the sector.

Several efforts are being made to reenergize the sector at both government and private sector level. Apollo Ssegawa, the managing director of CURAD says despite limited funding, young people with great ideas can leverage soft loans.

CURAD is supporting the coffee value chain by increasing value and helping farmers avoid middlemen in their transactions. Ssegawa says they have obtained and commercialized several disease resistant varieties so far.

Bananas and coffee

The AfiBanana project is currently exporting five tonnes of processed agriculture products to two U.S. states every month. Kimani Muturi, the chief executive of AfriBanana says from the crop, they are making wine, juices, charcoal brickets, animal feeds, vinegar, bags and all the products are patented. They have also started collaboration with the Finish government to make car interiors from bananas through incubation.

“We are using the entire banana plant. So far 52 businesses have been supported and close to 300 students through internship whereas 1,500 jobs have been created in the value chain,” noted Muturi.

“We have a lot of uncommercialised products, we produce a lot and eat a lot but we are not doing enough business,” said Muturi pointing out that high value commercial products like sanitary pads, hair braids, jam can still be obtained from the entire banana plant including the stems. The banana value chain incubator comprises universities, research institutions and private sector.

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From sorghum, several related products are being obtained including wine and todate 42 small and medium sized enterprises are being supported through the incubation programme.

The young incubatees were asked to patent their innovations so that they can get value from it in the long run.

Source: http://www.newvision.co.ug

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