The County Government of Meru and Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at accelerating the engagement of women and youth in agribusiness.
This will be achieved through the AgriBiz programme, which is funded by the European Union and Danida to the tune of Sh5.1 billion.
The AgriBiz programme aims to support 2,400 women and youth-led agribusiness enterprises across Kenya. It is projected to create 17,000 job opportunities.
Meru County Governor, Kiraitu Murungi, lauded the project, saying that the crop-rich county would now be more productive.
“Meru is renowned in terms of food production. As a county, we are excited to sign this MoU under the AgriBiz programme. The programme will assist 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 areas under high value crops such as tea, miraa, coffee, macadamia, vegetables and other staple crops for local market and export.”
Leaders believe that agriculture has the capacity to absorb a large percentage of the county’s youth who are unemployed and has the potential to enter into agri-industries.
Meru County is also endowed with rich soils and climatic conditions that allow for the production of a variety of commodities including wheat, barley, Irish potatoes, millet, sorghum, maize as well as horticultural crops. High-grade tea, coffee, bananas and miraa are the key cash crops. Livestock production activities in the county include dairy, poultry, goat, and pig farming. Other ongoing key value chains in the county include milk processing and butter production, as well as hide and skin processing.
Edward Mungai, the Chief Executive Officer at KCIC said that training institutions would improve the knowledge necessary for quality production.
“Women and youth in this county will be linked to financial institutions to be able to obtain capital for growing their agribusiness enterprises. In addition to business advisory from KCIC, the capacity gap will also be filled through opportunities available at agricultural training institutions.”
The five-year programme is now set to roll out a business incubation hub in Meru that will be operationalised before the end of November to support the identified value chains.
Youth and women enrolled in the programme will be able to access facilities at the hub and will be trained on efficient production practices including the sustainable utilisation of natural resources.
KCIC will provide business advisory services and support the enterprises' access to financing both from within and from external sources as well.