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Innovation And Modernization Unlock Kenya’s Agricultural Potential

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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.

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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