Elgon Kenya and The University of Nairobi have signed a Memorandum of Understanding paving way for the construction of the Agricultural Technology and Innovation Centre (ATIC) at the College of Agriculture and Veterinary Services, Upper Kabete Campus in the capital city.
The institution is set to nurture and strengthen innovations in agriculture and entrepreneurship. The aim is to foster adoption of cutting edge innovations leading to job creation and product development resulting in a thriving agricultural sector for enhanced economic growth for the country.
World over, agriculture technology incubation centres are becoming instrumental in translating scientific discoveries into products for economic development.
“The venture is born out of the need to foster a culture of innovation, promote resource mobilization for development and commercialization of market-demanded products and services. At the same time, it will train and mentor innovators and entrepreneurs in order to increase chances of commercial success and to accelerate uptake of technology along the agricultural value chains,” said Prof Stephen Kiama, Vice Chancellor, and University of Nairobi.
Elgon Kenya Managing Director Dr Bimal Kantaria termed the partnership as the hitherto missing link between research and industry.
“To succeed in agriculture transformation, we need a focal point between research, technology and the industry. The Centre will bring together private sector and academia to showcase new technologies and to train students for further transmission to the agriculture community”, he said
Prof Kiama emphasized that despite agriculture being the backbone of the country’s economy, the sector has not been backed by research, leaving farmers at the mercy of cultural and traditional practices leading to low yields affecting food security.
“Agricultural re-engineering ensures use of the latest scientific technology in designing new machinery for efficiency and effectiveness in agricultural processes. The ATIC will hold open days for stakeholders to connect with farmers where private sector players will introduce their innovations, new products and market intelligence,” he said.
The center will also spearhead useful research to guide agriculture sector development. Prof Gitahi added the center will enable young people to transform their mindsets by making them innovators and creators of new knowledge, essentially creating entrepreneurs.
AITC will enable Kenyans and the UoN students to experience innovation and the latest technology in agriculture at the earliest stage.
“The centre will be used to establish cost effective and easy to use innovations such as drip irrigation, drones and combined harvesters.’ Said Dr Kantaria, adding that the firm is the first in the country to manufacture a locally made drip irrigation system.
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