Speaking Thursday when he hosted the European Union Ambassador to Kenya, Simon Mordue, Machakos Governor Dr. Mutua said the decision to launch the call for applicants for the programme in Machakos stems from the realization that the county has made significant progress in addressing food security since devolution.
“Our projects at the Machakos Farmers Training Centre (FCT), including chicken rearing, fish farming, vegetable farming, dairy farming and bee keeping among many others make us a key partner, and the choice of Machakos County as an incubation center for the programme is therefore not misplaced,” he said.
“Over the years we have built a legacy of promoting and supporting local farmers through providing free tractors to plough their land and free seeds as well as fertilizers,” he added.
The Governor said the programme was focusing mainly on young people and women, to give funds to those people so that they can invest in agricultural production.
“We are expanding our county coffee sector and setting up a Machakos milk plant and I urge young people to take advantage of these funds, register and apply for the money and invest it in modern farming,” he said.
Others who attended the launch are Deputy Head of Mission and Head of Cooperation, Royal Danish Embassy Mr. Henrick Larsen together with their teams who visited the county to officially launch the national program.
In five years, the programme is expected to create 17, 000 jobs in the agricultural sector across the country and increase smallholder production, improve food security and boost household incomes particularly for youth and women.
Agri biz is achieving this by funding 2, 400 women and youth –led agribusiness over a period of 5 years at a cost of Kshs. 5.1 billion. An additional Kshs.17.1 billion in loans will also be leveraged from local financial institutions to support the enterprises
Since Kenya is largely an agricultural country, investments in Small Medium Enterprises in the Agri business sector will also help the economy bounce back from Covid-19.
The call for applicants targets youth and women in agribusiness in Machakos, Kisii, Uasin Gishu and Isiolo counties.
Applicants from neighboring counties are encouraged to apply. Machakos County will accept applicants from Makueni, Kajiado and Kitui while Kisii will accept applications from Nyamira, Kericho, Kisumu, Migori, Homa Bay, Bomet and Nakuru.
Uasin Gishu will cover Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, Turkana, and West Pokot while Isiolo will cover Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit and Samburu.
Successful applicants to the programme will benefit from Training, business advisory and financing to promote the sustainable use of natural resources and encourage appropriate agribusiness practices. The advice will be provided through business hubs set up in the counties, which will offer guidance to all selected agribusinesses.
Applicants can now access the application portal via agribiz.kenyacic.org or they can drop printed and filled forms at the Business Incubation Hubs in their respective counties.
The call for applicants for Kisii, Machakos, Uasin Gishu and Isiolo will run until 12 March, 2021after which successful applicants will be contacted. A similar call is expected to be opened for Kilifi County in the coming weeks
by Rachael Kilonzo