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Shaping Kenya's Agribusiness Industry

  Aug 8, 2014

Agriculture is the pillar of Kenya’s economy, contributing approximately 25% of the GDP, and employing 75% of the national labour force (Republic of Kenya 2005). Over 80% of the Kenyan population live in the rural areas and make their livelihoods on small scale sustenance farming. The exploits presented by these farmers hold a great potential in revolutionising the field. The farmers’ inclusion in commercial production hinges on an informed understanding of policies in the agricultural sector, market chain actors and the nature and management of risks of agribusiness entrepreneurs would create an enabling environment for their businesses to thrive. This would result in a substantial improvement in Kenya’s growth and its citizens’ living standards.

Since independence, Agriculture has been Kenya’s backbone and just like other industries, it has grown in very many aspects. The establishment of agribusiness both locally and internationally has seen the livestock; tea, coffee and horticulture sectors among many others rake in billions for our economy. This has attracted investors from all over the world, from the Chinese, who recently expressed their interest in Laikipia’s livestock production sector to the European Union, which has always had an insatiable appetite for our horticulture. However, this has not been without problems. Just like with every other profitable venture, agriculture poses various challenges: from technical problems involving fluctuation of food prices, export levies and business barriers to uncontrollable causes of Mother Nature. These problems are ever evolving and the issue of inadequate use of arable land in the pre-colonial period can’t match today’s challenges of global warming, food security and climate change. Similar to many other fields, the answer lies in education. Stakeholders in Kenya’s agriculture should learn how to deal with the issues from a more objective academic point of view. Students should learn the necessary skills to balance natural resources as well as human and economic factors that affect agricultural sustainability.

One of the greatest misconceptions about agriculture, especially among the youth is that dealing with agriculture must involve going to the farm and getting involved directly in farming activities. As Strathmore Business School pioneers Masters in Agribusiness Management program, that is a misunderstanding that we would like to do away with. From the various bank programs that target agribusiness in all its scales to the advertising and marketing agricultural products, agriculture is a vast field that needs those who manage businesses that are brought about by trading farm produce as much as it does the farmers. The program has been designed with the African Network for Agriculture, Agroforestry and Natural Resources Education (ANAFE) in collaboration with Strathmore Business School and aims to bring together business leaders and executives who are shaping today’s agribusiness industry. Drawn from diverse agribusiness sectors and every part of the continent, participants will be senior industry executives who are highly experienced thought leaders and key decision makers at agribusiness organizations. Recognizing that innovation occurs at every stage of the agribusiness supply chain, the program welcomes participants from a range of organizations, including:

• Producers, processors, and distributors of agricultural and food products

• Marketers of fresh and packaged foods, convenience meals, and snacks

• Major grocery chains, specialty food retailers, and food service providers

• Manufacturers and distributors of agricultural supplies and farm equipment

• Financial services firms that directly serve the agribusiness industry

• Government agencies and educational institutions that further agribusiness for the public good

• County government Executives and Directors of Agriculture

• Biotech companies that shape the future of global food, pharmaceutical, and energy sectors

• Researcher who are keen in shaping the agribusiness research think tanks

The program will be focused on the latest agribusiness trends and best practices. The curriculum will ensure that participants expand their perspective, knowledge, skills and effectiveness as leaders. By going through this program participants will emerge better able to:

• Identify potential opportunities for growth in both domestic and international markets

• Build a flexible organizations that responds with greater agility to all types of market change

• Drive innovation and change to address an evolving customer base, rising competitors, and emerging opportunities

• Understand the macro and micro environmental factors that affect the vibrancy of the sector

• Adopt practices from within and outside your sector to improve effectiveness and market position

• Strengthen global networks by making new connections with other leaders across the agribusiness industry

“Our objective is to flood the African market with qualified graduates in the agribusiness sector whose strong ethical impetus will seek to transform this sector for the benefit of the people,” said Dr. Njenga, the current and founding Dean of Strathmore Business School. The Kenyan agriculture industry needs qualified individuals to work in the agribusiness sector and, being the first University to host the program, graduates of the course are bound to have an upper hand in the market.

The program will go a long way in producing professionals that understand how to revolutionize the industry and modernize it. The students will be involved in exchange programs, engaging them in a direct study of successes and failures so as to arm them with the necessary skills to take the industry to a bright future.
Together with the moral values that the Strathmore Business School is well known to instill into its students, we can rest assured that our country will be safe in the hands of individuals who practice what they teach and that we shall be on the right track in leading our country towards a bright future.

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