Bungoma signs deal to set up EU-funded agribusiness hubs

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The Bungoma county government and Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) have signed a memorandum of understanding to support local agribusiness enterprises owned or led by the youth and women.

The agreement is the first under a programme set to support 2,400 women and youth-owned agribusinesses in selected counties.

The five-year programme worth Sh5.1 billion was launched in March jointly by the Kenyan government, the European Union, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark (Danida), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the African Development Bank and is expected to create 17,000 jobs.

The programme aims to roll out eight business incubation hubs in eight counties, including Kilifi, Machakos, Kiambu, Meru, Isiolo, Kisii and Uasin Gishu.

Bungoma becomes the first county to support the establishment of a hub, that will be located at the Agricultural Training Center (ATC) based at Mabanga and is expected to be operational by the end of November 2020.

Food and agriculture sector have been considered a spot in the economy, contributing a third of GDP, however, it has faced disruptions in supply and declined demand affecting farmers depending on the sector for livelihood.

Potential value chains in the county that will receive support include poultry, sweet potatoes, dairy, horticulture, soya production among others.

“The programme will help the county as well as the surrounding counties to strengthen the ability of community-based self-help groups, agri SMEs as well as start-ups to improve their agricultural productivity, contribute to food security and nutrition as well as having better market linkages,” Bungoma County Governor Wycliffe Wangamati said.

The programme expects to address the increased unemployment rate in the country especially among the youth. About 60 percent of the unemployed Kenyans are aged below 35 years old, with an at least 500,000 young people joining the labour market every year.

KCIC will provide beneficiaries with training, business advisory and financing services.

“Bungoma is endowed with great agribusiness potential. By tapping into the potential of youth and women, our intention is to increase smallholder production that will have a ripple effect on household incomes and food security as envisioned in the government’s Big Four Action Plan,’’ KCIC chief executive Edward Mungai said.

Already, KCIC has onboarded 200 agribusiness enterprises, who are receiving support from KCIC’s central Hub based at Strathmore University in Nairobi.