Strathmore agribusiness program kicks off

February 21, 2012
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Strathmore agribusiness program kicks off/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 21 – Strathmore University is holding its first agribusiness management program this week to help farmers in Kenya assess the emerging trends and issues in agriculture, identify the best practices and explore new approaches to the sector.

Vice Dean of Academic Affairs Lucy Mugwere said the program was inspired after organisers saw pictures of starving men, women, and children in Northern Kenya late last year due to the drought.

“Our mission here is to improve food security in this country so that there’s food for everybody,” she said. “We want to see how we can explore the possibilities, harness resources and put in place policies and strategies that will ensure that we don’t see what we saw in Northern Kenya.”

The five-day program is being led by Raquel Sastre, Robert Bisang and Juan Rusinek, who all work extensively in the agriculture business in Argentina.

Sastre said that their objective is to teach the agricultural techniques that they have used successfully in Argentina to Kenyans so they can apply the methods on their own farms.

The program features a set of agribusiness specific cases in which participants examine the industry’s innovation leaders, companies that are introducing bold new business models and how to embrace new thinking about industry challenges.

“We hope that we can help to apply some of these ideas to increase the production of Kenya,” she said. “Kenya is a very big and rich country and perhaps the first thing to do in moving forward is to change the minds of farmers so they can accept foreign methods in their agricultural practices.”

The panellists will utilise a combination of learning aids and approaches such as pre-reading materials, lectures, syndicate group discussions and peer group learning as they emphasise the best global practices, which are applicable in the local and regional agribusiness environment.

Mugwere said that they will make the program an annual event, inviting agricultural experts from a different country each year to address changing market needs, expanding the food supply, building a customer-focused supply chain and promoting agriculture as an attractive business opportunity for entrepreneurs.

“Unfortunately, many parents over the years have been training their children to be civil servants or to occupy jobs in the private sector, not knowing that agriculture can actually be a very viable business and livelihood,” she said.

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