The University of Nairobi and Kenya’s largest agri-input supplier, Elgon Kenya Limited, have begun constructing the state-of-the-art Kantaria Agricultural Technology and Innovation Centre (KATIC) at the upper Kabete Campus, Faculty of Agriculture.
According to the university, “The center’s overarching goal will be to bridge the gap between industry, academia (research and innovation), and the farming communities. It will foster seamless access to knowledge and learning materials. It will also provide networks and linkages to students, farmers, and all agricultural stakeholders.”
Elgon Kenya will donate up to 60 million toward finalising the project and urged the government and other players in the sector to aid in the project.
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Prime Cabinet Secretary, Wycliffe Musalia Mudavadi– the chief guest at the project’s groundbreaking– observed that a lasting answer should be found to the missing links between academia and business development in Kenya. “This lies in the collaboration between institutions of higher learning and industry partners. While enhancing the innovative capacity of our university graduates through internship programs, also enable universities to deploy industry players to offer practical experiences to enrich students’ learning as guest, visiting, or adjunct lecturers. Tailor-made courses, designed and delivered with input from industry, can contribute vastly to molding job creators and job-compliant graduates,” he said.
Collaboration between agro-industry and academia in Kenya, he observed, would aid in the country’s move toward sustainable agricultural development.
“Kenyan’s population is estimated to hit 55 million this year. To meet the food demand of this rapidly growing population, we must invest and annually increase agricultural production by a minimum 2 per cent” he noted.
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Vice Chancellor, S.G. Kiama said that the partnership is one of its kind as it is student focused and concerned with providing solutions to the industry. “Elgon Kenya will provide internship opportunities to 25 students. Six students have already been absorbed into the company while others have ventured into their own enterprises. The Agricultural Technology and Innovation Centre will contribute immensely to the advancement of our Vision, which is to be a world-class university committed to scholarly excellence. In addition, the center is anchored on our mission to provide quality university education and training and embody the aspirations of the Kenyan people and the global community through creation, preservation, integration, transmission, and utilization of knowledge”, said the professor.
Per a statement by the university, “Once operational any Kenyan seeking lessons in homegrown agricultural innovations and expertise in a wide range of issues in among others soil fertility management; crop protection and improvement; seedling technology and horticulture; animal production and health, and preventing post-harvest losses will access the center.”