No farmer, No food, No future…These are strong sentiments that continues to spread through the airwaves in advocating for more involvement in sustainable agriculture mainly for food security, job-creation, poverty alleviation, economic development, healthy being among other reasons. Sizeable number people are returning back to reignite the lost glory in agriculture although more still need to be done in attracting more youths to these ventures, several strides and transformation have been made among them transmogrifying traditional agriculture to agribusiness giving way to value-addition, modern farming technology, innovation-driven productivity, research and development, agribusiness financing and market access.

With more investment in Information Communication Technology (ICT), these transformational agendas will surely get right down to people changing the perception, providing that much needed knowledge /skills, empowerment to walk the path of feeding the ever growing population presenting massive market opportunity for agripreneurs to optimize.
Modern farmers have increasingly become wiser and are thinking innovation, back of their mind they entirely understand that fixing mind on selling raw agricultural produce fetches raw deal which beats the logic of productivity and sustainability over time. In regards to this, many have embraced call for value-addition and are reaping big in returns, this is commendable and it’s much prudent to highlight the viable job they are doing in order to be an eye opener to other farmers, government authorities, Support groups to streamline their operations and efforts towards ensuring agribusiness profitability, management of post-harvest losses, improving value chains, food security, boosting the market access for the products.

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In this article, I’ll put much of the focus on the strides made in banana farming in relations to value-addition and enterprise development. Banana is predominantly grown in parts of Gusii highlands, Meru and Tharaka regions here in Kenya. The farmers in these regions have been a happy lot after realizing that they can actually get more value and products from their raw bananas, many have formed groups and companies as a synergy to take business direction with their farming and improve their livelihoods.

I have recently worked closely with one of the company, Nyangorora banana processors, stationed at KIRDI-Kisii center for agribusiness incubation in Gusii region making it big in agribusiness space and banana value-addition. Started with principle of youth employment and local economic empowerment, it supports close to 500 individuals involved in the banana products value chain. In support of local farmers and evading middle-men exploitation, the company has about 50 contracted farmers in specified collection centers in the region, the pricing of the tissue-culture bananas are based on weight and quality rather than the traditional physical exploitative techniques supported by the bargaining abilities. This is very pleasing as it rewards the farmer’s hardwork and ensures quality production.

The already weighed tissue-culture bananas undergoes extensive quality standards procedure during various processing stages to come up with the unique value-added products such as banana crisps, flour, bread, bun, cakes, wine, juice, jam. In the spirit of zero wastage, the banana peels are dried and milled into flour to be used as chicken feeds. All these products have distinctive nutritious values, better shelf-life and serves wider market base than the raw bananas. This is the power of value addition in play, let me get you into speed with the math on what this is all about, a bunch of a banana of around 80kg has approximately 1,500 banana fingers of variegated weights. Averagely, each banana finger produces banana crisps of Kshs 30, meaning that the entire bunch gives a return of around Kshs 45,000. The whole raw banana bunch in the plantation won’t give a return beyond Kshs 1,500, when you decide to sell it when ripened, single finger is averagely Kshs 5, meaning collectively for the bunch of 1,500 fingers you will realize Kshs 7,500 returns. Which way will you go?

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The company’s products under the brand name Ritoke, are distributed in various retail shops, supermarkets, markets, schools, hospitals, gas stations mostly locally around Kisii, Nyamira, Narok, Nairobi and Mombasa regions .They are largely packaged in smaller quantities to meet the customer’s preference. Meeting the market demand and expanding the market base is still a challenge to Nyangorora as well as many other small scale agripreneurs limiting their operational capacities, Having taken right direction in value-addition, they need to be supported and guided consistently so as to realize their goals.

ARTICLE CREDIT: entrepreneurshipclassified

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