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Innovation And Modernization Unlock Kenya’s Agricultural Potential



Dr. Moses Ikiara (pictured), Managing Director of KenInvest writes: Agriculture is integral to the Kenyan economy. It employs more than half of the working population, accounts to 65 per cent of Kenya’s export earnings while it directly contributes almost 27 per cent to the country’s GDP.

While agriculture is undoubtedly a major growth industry for the entire East Africa region, there is still room for further growth. Local and international firms including a world favourite cereal manufacturer, Weetabix are increasingly turning to partnerships and mechanisation to raise the gear on the industry’s growth rates in order to leverage spiking consumer demand across East Africa.

Companies are adopting technological innovations more and more through knowledge transfer to increase revenues and production efficiency. The impacts of this are increasingly gaining the attention of the public and private sectors.

The implementation of Kenya’s Agricultural Sector Development Strategy (ASDS) is projected to raise agriculture’s GDP contribution in line with Kenya Vision 2030. This move is instrumental in stimulating a heavy shift from subsistence farming to value added agricultural production and agricultural export. With these factors in place, Kenya’s agricultural sector is poised for continued growth.

While Kenya is a leading producer of cereals (maize, wheat, rice and sorghum), East African demand for cereals currently outstrips supply. The country has yet to reach its potential in cereal production, and global firms are taking notice of this. Weetabix is set to invest GBP 1.3 million in Kenya in the next three to five years to double its production volume and increase market penetration.

The motivation behind the world-famous wheat producer’s shift to target Kenya is two-pronged. Firstly, the company aims to capitalise on East Africa’s reliance on imports to meet growing food demands. Secondly, the company endeavors to drive local production and support local farmers.

The company can now commit to its ambition of sourcing wheat within just 50 miles of the plant in the heart of East Africa, as it does at its original British base. Through enhanced ease of doing business and modernised agriculture infrastructure, Kenya is now well placed to facilitate this. As a result, we expect to see a boost in cereal production, with 420,000 tons of wheat produced this year – the highest in the region but still short of the country’s annual demand of 900,000 tons.

In a move to cut costly wheat importation, the global food manufacturer has committed to sourcing more than 60 percent of its raw materials locally. With every single Weetabix packet produced in the East African nation, we see a platform for local farmers to benefit from global trade and knowledge & technological transfer opportunities. The company is investing in offering technical support to local farmers, including teaching international standard agronomical practices intended to cut domestic production costs, and offset the impact of higher wheat importation prices.

This locally empowered agriculture model enhances the long-term sustainability of Weetabix’s operations in Kenya. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), sharing technological innovations with farmers can increase yields by up to 40 percent. The Weetabix example is not isolated. We are increasingly seeing large corporates, both foreign and locally owned, building sustainable links with farmers.

Farmer-to-farmer knowledge transfer is a core ingredient of strengthening the sector and minimizing its vulnerability to global commodity price shifts. As more private sector firms encourage farm modernization, we are seeing greater cost efficiency and systems of empowered local farmers – a set up that is impacting far more than one or two harvests.

Homegrown businesses are also seeing huge value in driving knowledge transfer within agriculture. Developed by a local business for local farmers, M-Farm provides information including up-to-date market prices via an app or SMS and direct connection with buyers, as well as production analysis. M-Farm has been instrumental in innovating the way farmers access information; prompting greater agricultural output and ultimately Kenya’s competitiveness internationally.

For frontier markets, this is the most valuable type of investment and a model, which Kenya is targeting to drive the sector’s direct and indirect contributions to GDP.

These are ‘impact investments,’ which do not simply represent hikes in FDI for a Government but which have a transformative effect on Kenya’s community. In Kenya’s agriculture sector, opportunities for global firms are plentiful.


New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035



renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart /

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.


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How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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