Brief news on farming and agribusiness in the country

Thursday December 12 2019
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Duke Nyarani assesses the damage on his crops after a heavy downpour accompanied by hailstorm ravaged the farm in Nakuru, in this past photo. The private sector has been urged to provide financial and technological support as conventional lending institutions become too reluctant to support farmers due to increased risks resulting from climate change. FILE PHOTO | NMG


Private sector told to lead climate resilience efforts

Private practitioners in the agriculture sector should be at the forefront of championing climate adaptation, besides building the resilience of rural smallholder farmers, experts have said.

The experts at the ongoing Cop25 talks in Madrid, Spain, said following extreme weather events that have caused massive disruptions to smallholder farmers, farming communities need financial support and new technologies to adapt to the change.

The private sector was urged to provide financial and technological support as conventional lending institutions become too reluctant to support farmers due to increased risks.

Luc Gnacadja, a former minister for environment in Benin and the president of the governance and policies for sustainable development think-thank (GPS-Dev), explained that climate adaptation includes new solutions that make investments stand extreme weather events.

By pushing the public sector to invest in climate adaptation strategies such as proper road network and bridges, the private sector ensures that not only are their investments safe, but their farmers as well.


“The private sector is keen on introducing new technologies such as mobile apps for farmers, among other technologies, but they should first be asking themselves whether the investments will survive into the future,” said Gnacadja, adding that there is need to scale up private sector investment through adaptation and mitigation.

Anmol Vanamali, private sector partnerships lead at Winrock, explained that private sector financing is the new frontier of climate financing.

“In Ghana we are working on renovating smallholder cocoa farms,” he noted. “In Peru for example, they expect Sh4.5 billion worth of infrastructure spending in the next two years. Imagine tapping into that amount of investment without thinking about climate risk… that’s the last thing the country wants to do.”

Mr Vanamali noted that they are designing tools and business models to help reduce climate risks.

“We are designing financial products that can actually help mobilise finance for resilience,” he said, adding that they also work with ministries and companies.

The experts were speaking during an Africa Development Bank side-event at the ongoing 25th United Nations framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC) conference of parties (COP25) in Spain.

-Leopold Obi


Specialty tea processor wins Sh1m cash award

Two entreprenuers have won Sh1 million each in a business plan competition organised by Sinapis, a faith-based institution that offers entreprenuers capital.

Boaz Katah, the founder of Tumoi Tea, a specialty tea processor in Nandi County, and Cherie Kihato, the founder of Savannah Space, a market start-up for informal sector artisans, beat six other contenders to bag the prize.

The competition, which is currently in its sixth edition, is preceded by a 16-week mini MBA training programme mirrored on Texas-based Acton School of Business, which is blended with practical business insights.

The business training helps the entrepreneurs to structure and grow to the next level and have a sustainable social-economic impact in society.

“Technical assistance and technology are key for fast-tracking the growth of SMEs to grow our economy and impact communities,” said Ronald Osumba, the CEO of IGOV Africa, who was one of the judges.

Sinapis Kenya country manager Silvya Kananu said entrepreneurs have the greatest potential to create wealth and jobs to boost the economy.

-Irene Mugo


Online firm gets Sh26m boost

An online app, Farmshine, where farmers, buyers and service providers trade, has raised Sh25.5 million to expand its services to smallholder farmers.

The funding raised from US-based impact investor Gray Matters Capital’s women-inclined portfolio, GMC coLABS, will be used to hire and train agronomy personnel, including field agents and further develop the platform to comprehensively connect the agriculture ecosystem.

The app enables smallholder farmers to aggregate and sell their harvests directly to large commodity companies.

According to Luca Alinovi, Farmshine’s founder and chief executive officer, the platform was designed with a farmer-first approach as it can be easily replicated for any value chains.

“Every activity takes place through the app – including contract agreement, production management, and crop aggregation, delivery and payment records – ensuring full transparency between the parties involved,” she said.

–Brian Okinda