Sorghum production receives boost in Kenya

The Sorghum Value-Chain Development Consortium (SVCDC) is one of the six pilot projects of Agribusiness Innovation Incubation Consortium (AIIC) in Africa. The Kenyan sorghum based agribusiness incubator was launched in mid-2014 with an express mandate to improve agribusiness education and catalyse the growth of sustainable enterprises for young people, especially agribusiness students and graduates in Africa. The incubator has declared in a statement that it aims to “create strong linkages between universities, research institutions, private and public sectors to ensure that innovative interventions from the incubator consortium are upscaled and disseminated to the end users in a timely and sustainable way.”
SVCDC was founded by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology (JKUAT), Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN) initiative, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Agritrace, and Farming Support International (FASI). It is involved in the business of creating agribusiness enterprises in the sorghum value chain in Kenya. The incubator plans to achieve this through training and capacity building, advisory services and technical backup.
According to SVCDC management, the incubator seeks agribusinessminded farmer groups, disadvantaged
groups such as women and youth, and agricultural graduates with potential entrepreneurship skills to start upagribusinesses which it will support.
The incubator is involved in creating agribusiness enterprises in the sorghum value chain: food, feed, fuel and fibre (hence the brand name Sorghum 4F):
• Seed ventures (fibre). Production of quality seeds to fit the different agronomical zones and meet farmers‘ seed requirement for food, feed and fuel sorghum crops.
• Food ventures. The incubator seeks clients that have an interest of producing sorghum based composite and biofortified flours for infants and young children, immuno-compromised people, and the elderly. Products focused on are: snack foods, extruded products, puffed products, flakes, sugar syrup, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and bakery products.
• Feed. In this instance, the not-for-profit
organisation is specifically looking for fodder, fortified feeds, crushed grains, spent syrup, pellets, bagasse or stover producers which be used in the poultry, dairy, beef, aqua and pet feed markets.
• Biofuel ventures. Ventures for sweet sorghum syrup, bioethanol, biofertilizer, carbon dioxide and charcoal briquette are sought.
The incubator, as part of its developmental nature, provides the chosen clients with training and capacity building along with facilitation of access to parental seed material, seed production skills and seed certification process (in the case of seed ventureclients). Moreover it aids the client with
the establishment of a seed processing plant, packing, branding and marketing.
For food and feed venture clients, it offers a database of commercially viable technologies, scientific support for production and testing, infrastructure, mentoring and advisory services. Says the NFP: “It is important for ventures to receive the necessary business funding and facilitations, scientific support and technical consultancy and insight into the market they are entering. As SVDC we are able to provide them with that and more. Specifically in the case of biofuel ventures, we should be able to expose the client to commercially viable technologies and what they offer.”
Speaking of the establishment of such an incubator, the Principal Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Sicily Kariuki, said: “The government plays a central role in value chain development
targeted at specific crops such as sorghum as avenues for food security promotion and improving farmers’
The Sorghum Value-Chain Development Consortium SVCDC:

Fast tracking agricultural transformation in Africa can be accomplished by:
• Agribusiness promotion through agribusiness incubation
• Tertiary agribusiness education and research
• Linkages and strategic engagement of private sector
• Mobile phone technology usage.