By Solomon Irungu N.
AgriBiz has today launched a call for applications targeting youth and women in Meru and the surrounding counties targeting individuals, Community Based Organisations and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) who are in different levels of agricultural value chains. This happened at Kaguru Agricultural and Technical College (ATC) during an event attended by different stakeholders in the agriculture sector in the area. The call for applications that targets applicants from Meru, Laikipia, Tharaka Nithi, Nyeri, Kirinyaga and Embu counties will be open until November 11th, 2020.
Speaking during the event, Felix Magaju the Head of Programmes at Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) encouraged those in attendance to apply and to share the information with others within their networks. “Successful applicants will benefit from agribusiness entrepreneurship opportunities that will be offered here at Kaguru ATC,” he said. “We are working hard to establish a Business Incubation Hub (BIH) at this center to bring our support closer to you.”
Applicants can now access the application portal via agribiz.kenyacic.org/apply or they can drop printed and filled forms at Kaguru ATC principal’s office. Printed versions of the form can also be accessed from the office.
“We are very fortunate as women and youth of this region to have this programme launched in Meru,” Prof. Kiugu Karwitha, the County Executive Committee Member (CECM) in charge of the Environment department in Mery County said. “Please let us note that when KCIC says that they will be supporting youth and women, they have not left men out; There are numerous ways in which the men will also benefit.”
“We are gifted with a county and region that is very agricultural friendly both in terms of the quite favourable climatic conditions of the area and the support of the County Government under the leadership of Governor Kiraitu Murungi who is very passionate about agribusiness,” Caroline Mutiga, the CECM in charge of the agriculture department said.
Meru County is endowed with abundant natural resources and diverse ecosystems which includes large-scale tracts of forest. Meru’s soils and climatic conditions of Meru County favor the growing of crops such as wheat, potatoes, millet, sorghum and maize. Key cash crops in the area include tea, coffee, bananas and miraa. Groundnuts as well as different varieties of legumes, vegetables and fruits also do well. Residents also practice livestock production, poultry farming, apiculture and aquaculture.
“There are hundreds of youth and women agripreneurs in this county who I am hoping will immensely benefit from this programme in the next five years. The benefit will not be just to these people, but you will note the thousands of men and women in this region who will be reached by the ripple effect,” Caroline added.
Newton Mutuma, one of the residents of Ntima West Ward, Imenti North Sub-county Meru County who is also the chairman of Meru Organic Coffee, a Community Based Organisation says that the group is delighted that the programme has been launched near them and is looking forward to the incubation of upon successful application and evaluation.
“We are engaged in coffee farming on the more than 13 acres of land. In case we qualify, we find that our group will benefit a lot in technical assistance and in other ways that the programme will be assisting agripreneurs,” he says. “We are looking forward to learning ways of value addition for the coffee, coming up with our own brand and penetrate into the beverages industry so that we become leading processors and suppliers of specialty coffee.”
The County Government of Meru has the vision of being “A Green United Prosperous Model County” and plans to achieve this by facilitating sustainable development and wealth creation in the County through commerce, technological innovations and industrialization that leverages on their skilled human resources, agriculture, wildlife, bio-diversity and cultural heritage.