University of Nairobi signs MoU with Elgon Kenya for construction of Innovation centre

KENYA – Agriculture inputs provider Elgon Kenya and the University of Nairobi have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the construction of the Agricultural Technology and Innovation Centre (ATIC) at the College of Agriculture and Veterinary Services, Upper Kabete Campus in the Nairobi.

The University seeks to deepen this collaboration   with Elgon Kenya Limited and nurture the spirit of innovation and community service among students and Kenyans.

This will then ensure that the theory and practice gap has been bridged and students will be able to participate in exchange programmes, internships and attachments with all the partner institutions

Elgon Kenya Managing Director Dr Bimal Kantaria lauded the partnership, terming it as the hitherto missing link between research and industry.

“To succeed in agriculture transformation, we need a focal point between research, technology and the industry,” he said.

He added that the Centre will bring together private sector and academia to showcase new technologies and to train students for further transmission to the agriculture community.

Dr Kantaria called on other like-minded institutions that support agricultural transformation to support ATIC so it can grow into a centre of excellence and offer the critical nexus between learners, research and industry.

“Students graduating from the university will be sharpened at the centre to instill in them streetsmart skills to provide useful service to the agriculture sector,” he said.

The ATIC will nurture and strengthen innovations in agriculture and entrepreneurship. The aim is to foster adoption of cutting edge innovations leading to job creation and product development resulting in a thriving agricultural sector for enhanced economic growth for the country. 

“The venture is born out of the need to foster a culture of innovation, promote resource mobilization for development and commercialization of market-demanded products and services,” said Prof Stephen Kiama, Vice Chancellor, and University of Nairobi.  

“At the same time, it will train and mentor innovators and entrepreneurs in order to increase chances of commercial success and to accelerate uptake of technology along the agricultural value chains.”

Prof Kiama emphasized that despite agriculture being the backbone of the country’s economy, the sector has not been backed by research, leaving farmers at the mercy of cultural and traditional practices leading to low yields affecting food security.

East Africa Community PS Dr Kevit Desai lauded the development, terming it a first in East Africa, that will be useful in enhancing the necessary research needs for the region to inform inter-regional trade in agriculture products and services.

AITC will enable Kenyans and the UoN students to experience innovation and the latest technology in agriculture at the earliest stage.

The innovations will be showcased at AITC to reach a wider audience and fresh agriculture graduates who will be expected to spread the knowledge to develop farms.

Elgon Kenya Ltd is the largest supplier of agriculture inputs and services in East Africa while the University of Nairobi is the most prestigious higher institution of higher learning in the region.

Its College of Agriculture and Veterinary Services is the oldest specialized trainer of graduates in agriculture. The coming together of the two institutions is expected to create an equally most respected agriculture technology and innovation centre.

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