Mudavadi calls on universities to use research to address agricultural challenges

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi. [Denis Kibuchi,Standard]

Universities have been challenged to embrace agricultural innovations and research to create solutions that will ease the cost of living.

Speaking during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Agricultural Technology and Innovation Centre (ATIC) in Nairobi on Tuesday, July 15, 2023, Mudavadi highlighted the pressing issue of rising demand for agricultural products, driven by the ever-increasing global population.

The initiative is a partnership between the University of Nairobi (UoN) and Elgon Kenya Limited.

"There is a rising demand for agricultural products driven by population growth. For instance, Kenya's population is estimated to hit the 55 million mark this year. To meet the rising demands of this rapidly growing population, we must invest and annually increase agricultural production by a minimum of 2 per cent," said Mudavadi.

He underscored the Kenya Kwanza administration's economic transformation agenda, which focuses on subsidizing production rather than consumption.

"If you go to some of the places where we gave farmers an opportunity through the fertilizer programme, the harvest is promising. It means we have started getting it right," he noted.

"In order to walk this journey to prosperity, we have to cut bureaucracy to benefit from the partnerships, and we can attest that in some places, food prices have started going down," he added.

At the same time, Mudavadi noted that tailor-made courses designed and delivered with input from the industry can contribute vastly to moulding job creators and job-compliant graduates.

"What we are witnessing, therefore, is a typical example of the collaboration between a market leader in agribusiness and a research-intensive university. At the heart of this partnership is the transfer of knowledge, skills, and competency packages to the students," he explained.

He lauded the collaboration, saying it entails the acquisition of hands-on skills by university graduates through a joint internship program designed to offer experience in real work settings across the country.

"Universities are designed to offer education and training and also conduct research to solve the problems afflicting society. Now, more than ever before, we must strengthen the contribution of universities in delivering their research products to end-users," he stated.

He called for the need to put behind the culture of university research outputs with high potential to uplift the livelihoods of communities, ending up in repositories.