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Kenya to build Africa’s first agritech innovation incubator

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The Disruptive Agricultural Technology (DAT) Challenge and Conference aims to provide a forum to discuss the opportunities offered by disruptive digital technologies to increase productivity, and access to services and markets in the agricultural sector.

The Ministries of Agriculture and that of Information in partnership with World Bank Group, Korea-World Bank Partnership Facility, Kuza Technologies, Dalberg and the United Nations is convening more than 200 key stakeholders to share experiences, discuss challenges and create new ideas for scaling disruptive agritech innovations in Kenya in three years.

The Nairobi knowledge and innovation challenge conference which is happening today and will end tomorrow is about scaling up disruptive digital technologies in the agricultural sector in Kenya.

Disrupting Kenya’s agricultural value chains and food systems is necessary to keep up with the rising demand for food, feed and fibre emanating from a rapidly growing population, increased effects of climate change and rising urbanization. The country’s food production will therefore need to grow by 75 per cent by 2030, according to the Institute of Security Studies.

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Agritech presents exciting opportunities for Kenya to leapfrog the agricultural transformation needed to meet these needs. According to McKinsey research, Kenya accounts for nearly 25 per cent percent of all agritech start-ups in Africa and has a vibrant agriculture sector that is ripe to capitalize on digital technologies and innovations to support agricultural transformation and the government’s Big 4 Agenda.

Scaling up the impact of digital and disruptive technologies on Kenyan agriculture requires a new approach; one that involves innovative program design and systematic investment in the knowledge, innovation and incubation ecosystem in the country. Examples of agritech innovations include: precision agriculture, internet-of-things, drones, crop and soil sensing, weed sensing, disease sensing and fintech solutions.

RELATED NEWS: Report: Kenya and Nigeria tops in the Agri-Tech Startup markets in Africa

Digital platforms link the smallest of agricultural businesses to buyers, allow better prices, increasing their incomes by about 50 per cent.  In designing and scaling market platforms in agriculture, companies need to make six strategic decisions around: model, crops, buyers, transport and logistics, farmer engagement, financial services and payments.

Over the next three years, the World Bank Group working with national, regional and international partners plans to create Africa’s first agritech incubator located in Kenya.  The incubator will scale up agritech innovations by connecting over one million Kenyan farmers to a digital platform – for market access, production information, and financial services.

“Digital innovation is creating unprecedented opportunities for Africa to grow its economy. Through the One Million Farmer Initiative, the World Bank Group and its partners will harness the power of innovation in Kenya to vastly improve food security and farmer incomes,” says Parmesh Shah, World Bank Global Lead for Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Jobs.

RELATED NEWS: Report: agri-tech companies earns Kenya Sh1.3bn foreign investment

During the conference, industry experts will engage the agritech innovators and policymakers on feasible and scalable digital solutions. They will explore solutions of market price information and linkages, alternative sources of energy, mechanization enabled by the internet-of-things, tailor-made services for access to credit, savings, insurance and payments, remote sensing, drones, machine learning, block chain, and agriculture intelligence.

Preceding the conference is an agritech innovators’ entrepreneurship bootcamp that will bring to light more than 20 disruptive start-ups working on various aspects of agricultural value chains that have the potential to scale.

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