REASONS TO START AN AGRIBUSINESS IN KENYA TODAY
When most people think of agriculture in Kenya, images of poor and overworked farmers with crude tools on a rural farm readily come to mind. Many, especially young Kenyans, still think that agribusiness is a poor man’s occupation. In Butere Mumias, Tetu Nyeri, Mavoloni Machakos or even in Ololunga Narok county everybody wants a white-collar office job in Nairobi city. Agribusiness is hardly on anyone’s mind.
Did you know that Kenya sits on an agribusiness goldmine but most people just don’t see it? If you’re one of the blind, allow me to open your eyes with a few exciting facts you need to know about agribusiness in Kenya. Did you know that since 2009, investors in the USA, Europe, Middle East and Asia have been buying and leasing millions of hectares of Kenyan land for agricultural purposes? Many people may not know it but there’s a trend of serious land grabbing by foreign interests for Kenyan land.
Did you know that Foreign Direct Investment in Kenyan agribusiness was $10 billion in 2010 and is projected to reach $45 billion by 2020? Agriculture is taking a huge leap in Kenya and investors want a piece of the action too. Did you know that Kenya’s agribusiness industry will be worth $1 trillion by 2030! That’s huge! If this projection by the UN comes true, agribusiness will become the ‘new oil’ in Kenya!
In the light of all these facts, how come the rich and wealthy folks are investing in Kenya’s agribusiness industry while the majority of Kenyans are largely ignorant about the amazing potentials of agriculture? Below are five reasons why agribusiness is the biggest opportunity right now in Kenya.
Kenya Has Rich And Abundant Agricultural Land
Sub-Saharan Africa according to world bank has almost 50% of the world’s fertile and uncultivated land. The size: over 200 million hectares! This is why the continent is now widely considered to be the future breadbasket of the world. It is this huge abundance of land resources that gives Kenya the strategic potential to feed the world!
Most of Kenya’s agricultural land lies in the tropical rain forest belt, which receives a favorable amount of rainfall and sunlight all year round. As a direct consequence, more than 80 percent of food crops consumed across the world can be produced in Kenya.
Interestingly, a large proportion of Kenya’s agricultural land is located in the rural areas. That’s why they’re often cheap to buy or lease. On the average, one hectare of land (10,000sqm) can be leased for as low as Ksh100 per year (depending on the location). This makes it one of the best land bargains you can find anywhere in the world!
Kenya Has A Ready Market And High Demand For Agricultural Produce
Agribusiness is one of the best business opportunities in the world because food never goes out of fashion. People must eat food everyday!
Currently, Kenya’s population is just over 45 million people. At its current growth rate, the country’s population is expected to reach 100 million by 2050. Now and in the future, Kenya will always have a lot of mouths to feed.
Kenya currently spends billions of dollars every year to import grains, flour and all kinds of finished and semi-finished foods which it can produce locally. There is a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs who can provide cheaper and locally-grown alternatives to the food that Kenya imports.
It’s not just the food industry that depends on agribusiness. Several other industries, especially the manufacturing and processing industries, depend on agribusiness for a wide range of raw materials. As Kenya’s economy continue to grow, the demand for raw materials will surely increase and create more interesting opportunities for agribusiness on the continent.
Improved Varieties Are Changing The Perceptions
Agribusiness in Kenya has suffered through the years because of its poor yields and crude farm practices. Most of the crops cultivated in Kenya are very little and are often very prone to pests, diseases and drought. As a result, most Kenyan farmers used to work very hard but have very little to show for all their hard work during harvest time.
However, due to advances in crop/animal science and technology, it is now possible to harvest more food per hectare than ever before in Kenya’s history. There are now improved crop and animal varieties that mature earlier, require less resources, and are less susceptible to pest attacks, diseases and drought. Across Kenya, these improved varieties are increasing yields by as much as 400 percent! For example hass avocados, grafted tree tomatoes.
There are now improved and locally-adapted varieties of maize, cassava, millet, rice, sorghum, beans, sweet potato, cowpea, groundnut, soybean, pigeon pea, banana, durum wheat, and bread wheat.
There are also several local and international organisations that are focused on supporting Kenyan farmers with improved seedlings and support.
Agribusiness Is Very Ascendable. Start With What You Have!
Whether you own one plot of land or 10,000 hectares, agribusiness is one of few business opportunities that allow you to start on any scale, with whatever you have!
Entrepreneurs like Mkulima WA Nyeri started his agribusiness in 2015 in his backyard with just four 500 tree tomato trees. Today, he owns a 3-acre tree tomato farm and fruit nurseries and he is a major supplier to a company in Mega, Nyeri County.
The opportunity to start small means that people with little capital can become part of Kenya’s multi-billion-dollar agribusiness industry. Because of the guaranteed demand for agricultural produce, that small vegetable or poultry farm in your backyard could just become a huge business tomorrow.
Every evidence shows that you don’t have to be a wealthy investor with millions of shillings in the bank or a highly-educated person to start a business in agriculture in Kenya. You can start where you are and use what you have, and grow from there. You can start your agribusiness journey in your home backyard or do it on a part-time basis with your day job. It’s very flexible that way!
Agribusiness Is a Huge Job Creator in Kenya
Agribusiness is one of the most effective ways to create jobs and empower millions of Kenyans. At present, up to 60 per cent of the labor force in Kenya is employed in the agribusiness industry. Agribusiness remains a top employer of labor in many Kenyan counties.
The value chain in the agribusiness industry, from food production, processing and marketing provide huge opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship. So, if you’re looking to start a business or invest in an industry that makes a significant social impact, provides jobs and creates sustainable wealth, agribusiness is surely the way to go!