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Columnists

Fresh milk can last 24 hours at most depending on climatic conditions. But, once it is processed into various products it can last months on end. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The global imagination of rural, is mainly a depiction of low-income communities who rely primarily on agricultural activities for their livelihood.

Agriculture and industry have long been tied in a symbiotic relationship that sees the former provide raw material such as hides, skins, cotton, fresh fruit, tree barks among others towards the creation of final products.

Industry on the other hand, incorporates many agribusinesses into the numerous value and supply chains that drive it, and this catalyses the growth and productivity of agriculture. Its, additional generation of foreign earnings through exports also provides an income to many.

According to the Economic Survey 2018, our agricultural sector made the highest contribution to GDP with 31.5 per cent in 2017.

Just to get a better scope of the contributors to this; the total value of marketed production increased by 8.2 per cent to Sh446.9 billion from Sh 413.3 billion in 2016, with the highest marketed production being livestock and products at Sh135.6 billion, tea at Sh134.8 billion and horticulture at Sh114.3 billion

These figures are compelling! And to think that as a country we have barely scratched the surface with regards to the potential in this sector. We need to start thinking – agro-based Manufacturing. Meaning we should renew our commitment towards increased value-addition .

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In the Food Security and Manufacturing Pillars of the Big 4 Agenda, the government has put in place measures that seek to expand food production and supply in the country, as well as a concerted effort towards the reduction of food prices to ensure affordability to all citizens.Under the two pillars, the government has prioritised textiles and apparel, leather products, agro-processing and construction materials.

To promote agro-processing, the government is focusing on tea, coffee, meat, sugar, dairy, fruits, and vegetables, in order to obtain more value and create an additional 200,000 jobs in the country.

Why then does value addition matter?A major contributor to food scarcity in the country has been the massive post-harvest losses that occur due to low-value addition and inadequate cold chain facilities.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that Kenya losses between 20 – 50 per cent of its agricultural production due to post-harvest losses.

However, if we change our mindset towards agro-based manufacturing we can significantly minimise this wastage and increase the quality of products and their shelf life – through value addition.

For instance, at present, fresh milk can last 24 hours at most depending on climatic conditions. But, once it is processed into various products it can last months on end.

Hence we need to kick start deliberate efforts by county governments and industry to, for instance, set up milk cooling plants along the supply chains towards this endeavor for value addition in the country.

Value addition also promotes the growth of backward and forward linkages, and in the process creates the much-needed productive jobs for the youth, and equally, increases the purchasing power of citizens.

Bryan Cuthbert, chairman, North Rift chapter, Kenya Association Manufacturers.



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