President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged the private sector to invest heavily in research and development especially in agricultural innovation in order to increase yields and enhance sustainability in the agricultural sector.
Speaking during the official opening of the Nairobi International Trade Fair (NITF) Thursday October 4, 2018 at the Jamuhuri Showground in Nairobi, the President said his government had invested in affordable renewable energy and post-harvest technologies to reduce post-harvest losses especially for smallholder farmers by 10%.
“Apart from investing in post-harvest technologies, my administration has disbursed Kshs. 57 billion to the Ministry of Agriculture to meet the needs of our farmers,” said President Kenyatta.
He informed the gathering that the government had realized the importance of research in agriculture and introduced the State Department of Agricultural Research to help farmers make informed decisions and enhance their agricultural productivity in the country.
“As a government, our goal is to achieve food security by 2022 and attain the Big Four Agenda of the government,” said Uhuru, but noted that this could only be achieved through partnerships with relevant stakeholders.
Earlier, while interacting with both staff and student innovators at the JKUAT Stand, Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Ngumi urged the government to link up with the academia in the area of research and innovation to tackle the problems facing the country.
“As a University we have hands on researchers who produce brilliant innovations that provide solutions to the challenges facing the country especially those related to the four pillars of the government’s development agenda,” explained Prof. Ngumi.
To improve the linkages between the government-private sector and academia, Prof. Ngumi said, the University is committed to enhance technology transfer through exhibition and training of farmers especially in the area of agricultural mechanization and value addition.
Citing the Tamarillo Company that benefited from the JKUAT value addition training, the Vice Chancellor was resolute that this was the way to go in order to enhance sustainability of agriculture in the country.
She was however delighted by the high number of students with agricultural innovations. “It is a high time the youth embrace agriculture in the country for them to become job creators and not job seekers. I am impressed by the Low-cost Greenhouse for peri-urban and urban areas and the Zero Energy Cooler showcased by an Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering student.”
Prof. Ngumi acknowledged that the two innovations were geared towards food security and reduction of post-harvest losses that had overwhelmed farmers in the country. She was also optimistic that the students’ initiative would encourage the youth to pick up agriculture as a viable economic venture, hence improving their livelihoods.
This year’s NITF saw JKUAT bag top prize in five classes namely; the Best Stand in Research and Development, the Best Stand Exhibiting Agricultural and/or Earth Moving Equipment, the Best Local Manufacturers Stand (Consumables), Best Local Manufacturers Stand (Non-Consumables) and the Stand that Best Interprets Current Show Theme in the Education and/or Research category.
The victory at NITF comes on the heels of another resounding victory by the University at the just concluded Central Kenya Agricultural Show, where JKUAT clinched six top honours in six trade classes namely; The Best University Stand, The Best Engineering Based Institution of Higher Learning, The Best Stand Exhibiting Agricultural and/or Earth Moving Equipment, The Best Stand in Research Development, The Best Innovation and Invention Stand, and The Best Agro-processing Stand.
The NITF comes to an end on Sunday, October 7, 2018.