Kenyan universities have conducted tens of dozens of successful research projects that could be of value to our farmers and entrepreneurs focused on agribusiness. Unfortunately, these findings when completed, are mostly “shelved”.
The partnership between Keroche Foundation and the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Techonology (JKUAT) aims at sharing market friendly formulations and technology to agro-entrepreneurs and farmers at the grassroots level. This arrangement shall be executed through a fund named the “Hakikisha Fund”.
The fund is aimed at facilitating one of Kenya’s leading technological insitutions – JKUAT – Department of Food Science, Nutrition & Technology –roll out of market friendly innovations, formulations and technology packages developed by the university to agro entrepreneurs and farmers at the grassroots level. The goal is increase the competitive position of the Kenyan agro-industrial sector by empowering end users on value-addition techniques and products.
The programme shall see JKUAT in conjunction with the Jua Kali industry develop basic technology that can cost effectively assist farmers add value and reduce food wastage after harvests. Additionally the programme would dispense basic value addition technique to enhance the profitability of farming.
Overproduction of fruits and vegetables leads to over 50 percent waste, depressed prices and lower returns to Kenyan farmers. Processing is seen as a means of preserving product quality and providing opportunities for value addition and income from marketing produce in local, regional and international markets.
Although there are several methods of preservation e.g. canning and freezing, simple drying technologies are the most appropriate for application in rural farming areas, which have poor infrastructure and limited technical, financial resources. However, for processing technology to provide sustainable returns requires careful development and placement of the appropriate technology in a fully integrated value chain stretching from producer to consumer.
The 2016-17 Hakikisha Fund will be used to support a Dryer Fabrication Programme. The goal is to attain a locally produced dryer. The programme led by the JKUAT Food Science Department will involve JKUAT Biomechanical Engineering Department, JKUAT Research, Production and Extension Division (RPE), Industrial Liaison office, JKUAT Industrial Park representative, and the Kenya Jua Kali Association.