By Irene Mwende
The University of Nairobi (UoN) on Tuesday broke ground for the construction of a first-of-its-kind agricultural technology centre at the Upper Kabete campus.
Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, lauded the project, saying it came at the right time when there was an increasing demand for agricultural products, driven by population growth.
According to Mudavadi, Kenya’s population is estimated to hit the 55 million mark by the end of this year and there is a need to meet the rising demands of the rapidly growing population.
“To meet the rising demands of this fast growing population, we need to invest and increase agricultural production by a minimum percentage annually,” he said.
Through adaptation of agricultural technologies and innovation, Mr Mudavadi believes the country will be able to reduce the number of poor people by 1 per cent for every 2 per cent increase in crop productivity
Speaking during the ground breaking ceremony Elgon Kenya Limited Managing Director Bimal Kantaria said they will donate between Sh50 million and Sh60 million to the university for the project which will be completed in the next 12 months
He noted that once the project is completed, more partners will be needed as there are several departments that will be needed in terms of capacity building, personnel, equipment and support.
“Our concern is what will happen once the centre is ready, so we are also looking for partners. We want anyone who wants to partner with the university to be there,” he said.
Mr kantaria further urged the government to extend its support to the university as well, saying that once the project is completed, job opportunities will also be created.
In his remarks UoN Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Gitahi Kiama noted that there has been persistent inadequate production of maize in the country, a crisis that can only be solved through partnership and by giving way to technology and innovation.
In conclusion He added that the project will contribute to the country’s Vision 2030 in terms of food security and improved livelihood