You are part of the brains behind ‘Farming is Cool campaign championed by its ambassador Juliani. Tell us more...
Yes I am. For long, there has been a perception that farming is for old people, it’s dirty and boring, but the campaign aims to change that negative view. We want to create an agri-business revolution among the youth. That’s why we roped in Juliani.
Your organisation is a giant in the agri-business. What are you involved in and how far have you spread your wings?
Balton CP Group is a British Company that owns various companies in Africa among them Amiran Kenya and its sister companies in Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Rwanda, Zambia and Nigeria. The Balton CP Group is a leader in Africa in Agriculture and Communications.
What does your job entail?
My job is to help grow the business while positioning the Group as a leader. In the area of agriculture, following six successful years at Amiran Kenya I have now been tasked to export our Kenyan born Agri-business model to the rest of Africa.
You are so passionate about agri-business. How did it start?
It started in 2003, when l was deputy ambassador of Israel to Kenya, and was working with MASHAV, Israel’s Centre for International Development. I had the chance to see amazing impact that modern agricultural technologies and methods could have on issues like food security and empowerment. I was also closely involved with the Kibwezi Irrigation project, which gave me an understanding of the power of knowledge for farmers.
What do you hope to achieve with the Next Generation Farmers Initiative and Farming is Cool campaign?
The Next Generation Farmers Initiative is a partnership with the Kenya Red Cross Society, involved in placing Amiran Farmers Kit, which brought a modern, holistic approach to agri-business, in schools throughout Kenya, to change their perception since agriculture is seen as ‘dirty’.
We want to change this idea that students who misbehave are sent to do agriculture as punishment.
Despite agriculture being backbone of this country, millions of people still go hungry. Where is the disconnect?
The country lacks the infrastructure to allow everyone access water. There is also a gap in knowledge, practical know-how in modern methods and in the use of modern technology especially among small scale farmers.
Tell us about your employment history.
I have served in the Israeli Defence Forces for three years. I was a journalist then editor and reporter at the foreign desk of Israel’s Channel 2 News during the 9/11 attacks and the war in Afghanistan. I was a diplomat and served as Government spokesman and was chosen as the spokesman for the rescue team following the Kikambala terror attack. Later, I served as deputy ambassador of Israel to Kenya and deputy Permanent Representative to UNEP and UNHabitat. I’ve served as Consul for Media and Public Affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles covering the Western United States. I’ve been Head of Business Development, Public Relations and Administration for Amiran, Kenya. I am also the co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Israel for Africa an Israeli NGO headquartered in Kenya.
What is the highlight of your career/life?
I’ve had high points in every job, in Los Angeles recruiting the support of Hollywood celebrities on behalf of Israel, and here in Kenya, working with celebrated artistes like Juliani.
What don’t people know about you?
I rarely see the negative in people or situations. I find potential in almost everything. I love empowering others to be better and spend much of my time investing my energy in the people around me.
What is your prediction about the future of agri-business in Kenya?
Kenya is more advanced than the rest of Africa in the mindset towards agri-business, in the technology, training, finance and market available to farmers. Thirty years ago, no one would have imagined the Kenyan flower sector would be the best in the world. Today, that is a fact.
What challenges have you faced rolling out your vision?
There is no such thing as ‘magic money’ in agri-business. There is only hard, smart work.
What is one thing that has been misunderstood about small scale farmers?
Historically, since small scale farmers are usually poor, governments and donors view them as a burden.
You are an Israeli in Kenya. Fill us in on your family background...
I was born in Israel. Since my father was a diplomat, l spent my childhood around the globe-Germany, London, New York, Ankara and Israel. I studied at Barclay House, primary, London and later Orthodox Jewish school, Ramaz in New York. I studied at Gilo High in Jerusalem and later George C. Marshall High in Ankara, Turkey. I have a degree in Political Science from the University of Hebrew, Jerusalem. I am married to Hadas, with whom we have been blessed with two children.
When not wooing youth into agri-business, what do you love doing?
Singing tops the list. I perform regularly with Calabash Band. I also write music.
Right now I am happy, I have found that ‘life plans’ usually don’t work out since God has his own plans.