Kenya to build Africa’s first agritech innovation incubator in three years

More than 200 key stakeholders will convene in Nairobi during a knowledge and innovation challenge conference to be held on the 5-6 April on scaling up disruptive digital technologies in the agricultural sector in Kenya.

The meeting by World Bank Group in partnership with the Korea-World Bank Partnership Facility, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation, the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, Kuza Technologies, Dalberg will focus on “Scaling up Disruptive Digital Technologies in Kenyan Agriculture: Developing a Knowledge and Innovation Ecosystem for a Million Farmers.”

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% by 2030, according to the Institute of Security Studies.

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% 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.

Digital platforms link the smallest of agricultural businesses to buyers, allow better prices, increasing their incomes by about 50%.  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.

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 boot camp 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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