KENYA – The agriculture sector in Kenya has received a major boost following a partnership between two leading institutions to set up a technology and innovation centre, the first of its kind in East Africa.
Elgon Kenya, a leading agri-inputs supplier in East Africa and the University of Nairobi have signed a Memorandum of Understanding paving way for the construction of the Agricultural Technology and Innovation Centre (ATIC) at the College of Agriculture and Veterinary Services, Upper Kabete Campus in the capital city.
The ATIC will nurture and strengthen innovations in agriculture and entrepreneurship, with the aim to foster adoption of cutting-edge innovations leading to job creation and product development resulting in a thriving agricultural sector for enhanced economic growth for the country.
World over, agriculture technology incubation centres are becoming instrumental in translating scientific discoveries into products for economic development.
“The venture is born out of the need to foster a culture of innovation, promote resource mobilization for development and commercialization of market-demanded products and services.
“At the same time, it will train and mentor innovators and entrepreneurs in order to increase chances of commercial success and to accelerate uptake of technology along the agricultural value chains,” said Prof Stephen Kiama, Vice Chancellor, and University of Nairobi.
Elgon Kenya Managing Director Dr Bimal Kantaria lauded the partnership, terming it as the hitherto missing link between research and industry.
“To succeed in agriculture transformation, we need a focal point between research, technology and the industry,” he said adding that the Centre will bring together private sector and academia to showcase new technologies and to train students for further transmission to the agriculture community.
Dr Kantaria further called on other like-minded institutions that support agricultural transformation to support ATIC so it can grow into a centre of excellence and offer the critical nexus between learners, research and industry.
“Students graduating from the university will be sharpened at the centre to instill in them streetsmart skills to provide useful service to the agriculture sector,” he said.
Meanwhile, Elgon is planning to unveil a fertilizer blending facility through which it will enable farmers to obtain small packs of the vital commodity based on results of tested soils at the facility.
“This will be a gamechanger in availability and usage of fertilizer in the country”, Dr Kantaria said. The innovations will be showcased at AITC to reach a wider audience and fresh agriculture graduates who will be expected to spread the knowledge to develop farms.
The University seeks to deepen this collaboration with Elgon Kenya Limited and nurture the spirit of innovation and community service among students and Kenyans.
This will then ensure that the theory and practice gap has been bridged and students will be able to participate in exchange programmes, internships and attachments with all the partner institutions.
Elgon Kenya Ltd is the largest supplier of agriculture inputs and services in East Africa while the University of Nairobi is the most prestigious higher institution of higher learning in the region. Its College of Agriculture and Veterinary Services is the oldest specialized trainer of graduates in agriculture. The coming together of the two institutions is expected to create an equally most respected agriculture technology and innovation centre.