Agro-industry key path to economic growth of counties
The agro-industrialisation potential towards Kenya’s devolution success and nation’s development cannot be over-emphasised in a country that produces many crops that could be processed into various value-added products.
Agro-industry is an integral part of the economic growth of any county, various cash crops and livestock that are produced in different counties could be major drivers of development.
Counties could benefit immensely from these resource opportunities to achieve food security if apparent challenges confronting the sector are tackled deliberately.
The agricultural sector has a multiplier effect on socio-economic and industrial fabric because of the multifunctional nature of agriculture.
Judging from the foregoing, many advantages abound if counties implement strategic policies in the agriculture sector to exploit agro-industry opportunities.
However, it is noteworthy that policy formulations, inconsistency and implementation have hindered the development of the agro-industry in Kenya.
Similarly, required processing techniques to convert farm produce into value added products remains a challenge because of non-availability of necessary processing facilities, and when available the power required to run them is lacking, too expensive or grossly insufficient.
Kenya is an advancing manufacturing country in the region and key fundamentals to attract investors abound across Kenya; financial services, banks and mobile money services are robust and developed across the country.
Transport infrastructure is also fairly adequate. Issues such as ease of doing business and incentives at respective counties should be parameters of comparative advantage to attract investors in order to process local commodities like avocadoes, pyrethrum, macadamia, mangoes, cassava, passion fruit and potatoes.
Increasing agricultural production in counties cannot be a reality without creating an agro-industry ecosystem. Crop production alone without a pulling force from agro-industry is not a bankable option for counties.
It is high time counties think of agro-ecosystems based on adaptation approaches that create a healthy continuum from agriculture and on-farm production to clean energy and agro-industrialisation.
In order to optimally tap the potential of agro-industry in the counties, there are four factors that could promote agricultural performance and must be properly addressed. First in the priority list is the need for collaborations between agro-industry, research institutions and county governments. There is a major disconnect here as research and development must move in tandem.
Second is that private sector must be enticed to invest in value-addition facilities in the counties.