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Agri-Business: What Kenya can learn from Israel?

  Nov 13, 2013

By Dr. S. Wagura Ndiritu

In agriculture, agribusiness is the business of agricultural production. It includes crop production (farming and agreement farming), seed supply, agrichemicals, farm machinery, distribution, processing, marketing, and retail sales.
Agribusiness is the sleeping giant that could transform Kenyan rural economy and create jobs for the youths in the agricultural service industries.

Agriculture in Israel is a highly established industry. Israel is a major exporter of garden-fresh produce and a world-leader in agricultural technologies despite the fact that the geography of Israel is not indeed advantageous to agriculture. More than half of the land area is desert, and the climate and lack of water resources do not favor farming, nonetheless it has put its land to use through modern hi-tech farming, agro-tourism attraction and a number of more adaptable activities. Many wonder how Arid and Semi- arid land provides sustenance to its inhabitants among them thriving agricultural communities. Extension services play a key role where limitations are converted into assets of today.

Israel is homespun to two inimitable types of agricultural communities, the kibbutz and moshav. The kibbutz, a collective community in which the means of production are communally owned and income is equally distributed and the moshav, a co-operative village where each family maintains its own household and works its own land, while purchasing and marketing are conducted cooperatively.

Kenya can learn from this cooperative way of farming by getting our smallholder farmers into farmers groups and revive the marketing cooperatives. This needs a change in farmers’ value system that working as a team always leads to better returns in agricultural settings in the long term.

Another key advantage of getting farmers in groups is the idea of coordinated farm management. This means the group can enter into contracts with potential buyers for their produce, and then they supply their produce throughout the year. This will ensure better prices, stable income and reduction of rural poverty. In addition the perennial headache of brokers who takes advantage of poor farmers will be a thing of the past.

There is an urgent need for farmer to know that farming is a business that needs proper planning, study of the supply chain and answer key questions on how to increase their yields and return. The idea of understanding the market before getting into the field to produce should be emphasized since it’s easy to produce than to make money in the Kenyan farming system which has great potential in the local market (40millions stomachs to feed) and export market which demands high quality.

Agro Tourism

The unique aspect of Israel’s agricultural sector is the adaptation of Agro-Tourism. They engage in the following: Olive Festival, Wine routes, Cheese Production, Desert agriculture and Dead sea-Agricultural Oasis.

Agro tourism is essentially where agriculture and tourism interconnect, as farms invite the public onto their area to experience the out of city, the leisure stride, and the healthy yield that is only imaginable when it is fresh picked at the crowning of flawlessness. Kenya has rich varieties of the different crops grown in various regions which the majority of tourist would be willing to experience, testing and having nice stories to tell to their families and friends when they go back to their countries. This is a very good way of the rural farmers making more money which needs to be explored through their cooperative or farmers groups.

Key for Success

The Israel farming miracle has been achieved by the close collaboration among the research (Academic), farmer and extension (government). The ministry of agriculture plays a key role in ensuring efficient extension services with ambitious targets that enable the sharing of information between the farmer, researchers and highly qualified extension officers. Extension officers helps farmers overcome any difficulty by assisting growers to become aware of the technologies under research, involve them during the varieties development. Since the farmer is involved in the new technology development, they build trust on the outcome of the technology and this enables speedy adoption by the growers. Extension services deliver in Kenya remains a key challenge in identification, development and dissemination of agricultural technologies.

The Fundamental realization that could enable Kenya to not only use agriculture for farming purposes but also for tourism is to enable close cooperation and interaction between Growers, Research, Extension service and technology.

Here we look at what our country has that could be of great prominence. One of our features is the North Eastern province. Even though the Kenyan government and improvement partners in that province have been sponsoring farming education to reduce food-aid dependency and promote self-reliance through agriculture it could also include the leisure industry.

Dr. S. Wagura Ndiritu is a senior lecture of Economics and Agribusiness at Strathmore Business School

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