Over 40 women beneficiaries of the JKUAT In-country business incubation programme from Nyeri County, Wednesday converged in Nyeri Town for targeted agri-business incubation on Rabbit farming. The conference mounted by the Varsity’s Research, Production and Extension(RPE) division saw participants learn about rabbit value chain; from production to processing and marketing.
The training is part of JKUAT’s strategy to transform livelihoods across the country by empowering rural women, through: training, technology transfer and value addition. The incubation was informed by earlier value chain studies in the region that identified rabbit farming as viable commercial enterprise.
Speaking during the official opening of the training, Nyeri County Secretary for Gender, Culture and Social Development, Cecilia Ndung’u lauded JKUAT for identifying Nyeri as a pilot county, reckoning the initiative will empower local women whom she characterized as the backbone of the society.
“We are committed to support this initiative. It is from such ventures that our women have been able to educate their children, buy property and improve livelihoods,” averred Cecilia.
The Secretary added that with proper planning, organization and positive attitude, Nyeri County could easily become a benchmarking destination for its counterparts in rabbit farming.
Quoting a 2012 survey of Nyeri County, Peter Mwangi, who represented the County’s Agriculture Secretary reported that the County currently has over 42, 000 rabbits. This prompted the County government to draw a rabbit farming master plan that Mwangi said would be implemented in the coming days.
Addressing the participants, Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof. Esther Kahangi who heads the division where the programme is domiciled noted that rabbit farming had been found to be both profitable and viable, given the untapped market both locally and internationally.
“The university has set aside Kshs.25 million annually to train and incubate women farmers across the country on various profitable ventures,” reckoned Prof. Kahangi.
The DVC called on the participants to prioritize learning, be patient and remain committed to pursuing ventures that would transform their life through economic empowerment. She further appealed to the county governments to embrace pro-poor development initiatives that would positively impact lives.
JKUAT has identified seven high potential business ventures including fish farming, bee keeping and indigenous chicken rearing. From the main products and attendant by products, these enterprises can be harnessed to reduce poverty, improve nutrition and create employment for thousands of Kenyans.
The programme’s coordinator, Dr. Jane Gathenya urged the participants to rise above cultural stereotyping and take their rightful place in societal transformation and households’ empowerment.
Besides staging the annual business training and incubation, JKUAT also acts as intermediary between the beneficiaries and funding institutions like the Women Enterprise Fund.