Category Archives: Agribusiness-Entrepreneurial Development

Currently many youths lack the required skills to conduct a successful commercial farming venture. In most cases they also lack the required capital or collateral to qualify for loans to purchase farms or establish their own agribusiness. Even those in the fortunate position of being able to access all the requirements to venture into agribusiness lack support that they require to ensure the success of their farming or agribusiness ventures.

Future Feeders Spring Newsletter

Future Feeders Spring Newsletter 

Our organization Foundation for Young Farmers was featured in the Future Feeders spring newsletter, according to the newsletter our key objectives mirror many of Future Feeders.

We take this opportunity to thank the future Feeders team for recognizing what we are doing and putting us in a global platform, we are so inspired.

For a full spring newsletter follow… Future Feeders Spring Newsletter 

Master Class in Agribusiness Management

Master

Are you an agro input dealer, farmer, NGO representative, processor, trader, buyer, agribusiness company executive, financial institution executive, representative from a research institution, academia or policy maker?
If so, then you should apply for the Agribusiness Management Master Class before 19th September (East Africa) and 27th October, 2014 (Southern Africa).
To register, download registration forms from http://ow.ly/Arino

Introduction to Rabbit Farming

Judy Maina at the rabbit farm..
Judy Maina at the rabbit farm..

As in any business you want to venture in, you need to do your research before embarking on rabbit farming. As noted before, rabbits come in different breeds and sizes. There are those that take up to six months to mature and those that take up to two months to mature. The California White matures quickly and reaches up to five kilograms in weight. Learn about rabbit habits so that you will be able to quickly notice if anything is amiss or if your rabbit is uncomfortable. Learn about diseases and what to do in case your rabbit becomes sick. Learn how to differentiate male and female rabbits and how to know if your rabbit is pregnant.

Housing

Rabbits reproduce at a first rate as their gestation period is just 30 days. This means that they can give birth up to ten times in a year. However, caution should be taken to allow your rabbits a period of rest in between giving birth. They can give birth to up to ten rabbits; therefore, a serious rabbit farmer has to prepare housing beforehand. Do not start with a large number of rabbits if you are new to the business. You can start with one male and one female and expand as they grow.

It is vital to build several cages for your rabbits so as to avoid inbreeding. Inbreeding causes production to go down. Each rabbit that gives birth should be kept in a cage with its children and once the children are of age, you need to separate them and find them their own cages so that they can start their own family. Remember to adhere to the space rules required for rabbits so as not to keep them in debilitating conditions.

While rabbits can be housed on the ground, it is prudent to keep them in raised cages that use wire mesh. This will enable you to easily keep the cages clean as the waste falls through the wire mesh. It is also advisable that you position the cages in such a way that you will be able to collect the urine as this can later be sold instead of going to waste.

Keep accurate records

Ensure that you keep accurate records of the rabbits in your care. Keeping records will enable you to notice any anomalies such as a rabbit that is not good at reproducing or a rabbit that has developed carnivorous habits or rabbits that are dwarfs in size. It will also enable you choose which rabbits should be kept to continue the line and which should be sold for meat. Keeping accurate records is very useful when it comes to breeding as you should be able to prepare a litter box for a rabbit that is about to give birth and you will also know when to do the breeding.

Food

Rabbits enjoy eating dry grass and green vegetation that can be found easily in the environment. They also enjoy vegetables such as cabbages and can eat things like maize, banana and cassava peels and ugali. If you are planning on going large scale, you should plant grass and stock up on dry grass to provide nutrition in the dry season. Also try to experiment on various growing plants. Rabbits are usually very careful not to eat anything that can harm them so you will quickly be able to discern if your rabbits like a particular food or not. So basically, finding food for your rabbits should not be difficult. Ensure that you also give them water to drink as part of their diet.

Hygiene and prevention of disease

When you embark on rabbit farming, you should take the prevention of diseases seriously. Disease outbreaks can occur in a region, and this could cause havoc to your rabbit farming venture. However, if you develop a habit of disinfecting before handling rabbits, your rabbits will be free from disease. Do not allow anyone to enter the rabbit houses before disinfecting as this can lead to your rabbits becoming sick. You can put a container with the disinfectant just outside the door so that those who go in can quickly step on the disinfectant before entering.

Selling products

Rabbits are kept for their meat, manure and fur. These are all products that are beneficial and can provide you with a regular source of income. Collect rabbit manure instead of letting things like urine go to waste. You can decide to sell the rabbits whole various businessmen (this is a good way for those who do not want to be involved with slaughtering). Hotels especially those frequented by Chinese would also be a good place to sell your rabbits as rabbit eating is nothing new to them.

Or, you can sell directly to customers or to butcheries. There are also many people who keep rabbits as pets that would benefit from your rabbits. With a mature rabbit going from shs2000-shs 2500, you can indeed reap a lot from rabbit farming. Schools are also a good place to sell your rabbits as most students look for activities to do in their school clubs, and rabbit keeping does not inconvenience them. So why not make rabbit farming provide you with a source of income?

Plan for expansion

This is a point that cannot be overemphasized. Rabbits breed at a fast rate. When you start with two rabbits, you can get up to 80 rabbits by the end of the year. And the next year would lead to more rabbits as the younger rabbits mature and give birth to their own rabbits. Many farmers utilize space wisely by stacking up cages. This ensures they use only a small amount of space for their rabbit farming business.

Use social media

Internet marketing is a tool that Kenyan farmers should not ignore. It is relatively cheap and it brings great results that will enable you to continue to benefit from your rabbit farming business. The future of rabbit farming is great in Kenya. When done well, rabbit farming has the potential to change livelihoods and employ many Kenyans. So let rabbit farming become a source of revenue for you. It is a fairly easy venture to pull off and its returns are awesome!

Introducing Young People into Bee Keeping

 

https://youngfamersfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/e240a-img_2775.jpgBee keeping in Kenya has been practiced since time immemorial. Bee keeping is associated with old people and most bee keepers in Kenya base their practice on indigenous knowledge which has been passed from one generation to the next.

However Foundation for young farmers (F4YFKenya) (https://youngfamersfoundation.wordpress.com/ ) a youth community based organization want to change the status quo by introducing young people into the bee keeping business. Through a Youth to Youth project “Scaling up of Beekeeping Technology and Eco-honey Production” funded by Youth to Youth Replication Fund by The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Youth Employment Network (YEN) (http://www.ilo.org/public/english/employment/yen/whatwedo/projects/y2y/yef/yef.htm ) through Ustadi (http://www.ustadi.org/index.php/opportunities/youth-entrepreneurship-facility-y2y-fund ), youths will be trained on modern bee keeping technology, apiary management, bee hives production, honey processing and value addition and a general course on entrepreneurial skills and marketing.

This project will be launched at Mutindwa Market on 14th August 2014 at New Bairunyi Honey Refinery Grounds (Mutindwa Market), in Maara Sub-County, Tharaka Nithi County at 10.00 am till 2.00 pm. The project targets over 200 unemployed youths in the region willing to learn and venture into bee keeping with the advantage of using Mt. Kenya forest to put up the bee hives. The initiative also aims at encouraging the youth to conserve the forest and natural ecosystems as bee keeping as worked as the ideal tool to raise awareness about the value of forests and engage people in conscious protection, conservation and sustainable resource management.

Foundation for Young Farmers “the Best Blog with Business Potential” in the 2014 #YoBloCo Awards

Photo: Best Blog with Business Potential won by Mwenda David, with the blog "Foundation for young Farmers"

Best Blog with Business Potential winner Mwenda David, with the blog “Foundation for young Farmers” Receiving an Award Plague and a Certificate at Kenya School of Monetary Studies.

The winners of the Youth in Agriculture blog competition (Yobloco Awards) were announced on the 17th of July, 2014 during the cocktail dinner organized at the Fin4Ag International Conference in Nairobi, Kenya where Foundation for young Farmers came out as the Best Blog with Business Potential in the competition. Results were announced by Philppe Couve, Jury member, assisted by Ken Lohento, in charge of the ARDYIS project. The results were announced in presence of participants of the conference, during a cocktail, and in the presence of various personalities including the Director of CTA, Michael Hailu.

The Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition (YoBloCo Awards) was organised in the framework of the CTA ARDYIS project, in collaboration with FARA,  CAFAN,  AYFANAFESPC/PAFPNET Yam-Pukri, and e-Agriculture. It aims to put into limelight successes and issues faced by youth engaged in agriculture, in urban and rural areas; and to encourage the production of information and the use of new information and communication technologies by young farmers groups and organisations interested in the youth in agriculture question. For more information, visit www.yobloco.info.40 ACP countries joined the 2nd edition of the YoBloCo awards and 194 Blogs were submittedout of which 121 blogs in the individual category and 24 blogs in the institutional category were selected to go through the public evaluation process (http://www.yobloco.info/). 30 qualifying blogs which received the highest number of public votes in the individual and highest number of comments in the institutional category were selected and evaluated by the jury. The jury made its decision and Foundation for young Farmers emerged as the Best Blog with Business Potential out of the 30 finalists.

Other Winners of the YoBloCo Awards announced at the Fin4Ag Conference can be found on the http://www.yobloco.info

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart, for all the love and kindness, all the votes, and most importantly, all of your encouragement. You inspire me.

 

Setting the stage – Revolutionizing Finance for Agri-value chains – International Conference – 14-18 July 2014 | Nairobi, Kenya

What is a value chain?

A value chain is often defined as sequence of value-adding activities in a supply chain – from production to consumption, through processing and commercialization. Value chains in agriculture can be thought of as a “farm to fork” set of processes and flows – from the inputs to production to processing, marketing and the consumer. Each segment of a chain has one or more backward and forward linkages. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and hence the stronger the links, the more secure is the flow of products and services within chain. It is important to note that the benefit of value chain finance goes beyond that of the financial flows within the chain. Yes, it is about finance with agriculture and agribusiness within a chain but also about aligning and structuring finance with the chain or because of it. Simply being a part of a secure market chain makes one a better credit risk.

What is “financing along the value chain?”

For centuries traders have provided finance to farmers for harvest, inputs or other needs such as emergencies. Many of the traders in turn receive finance from millers and processors who in turn may be financed from wholesalers or exporters who are farther “up” the chain from production to marketing. We all understand how trade finance typically works. But we also want to note that there are many entry points and many factors involved.

 

Agricultural Value Chains (AVCs) have become very important in determining countries’ trade competitiveness in a globalized world. In Africa, where agriculture is the backbone in many economies, they are important not only in enhancing export competitiveness, but also in developing sustainable agricultural systems, alleviating poverty and promoting financial inclusion, especially of the rural poor.

Products typically flow from stage to stage along a chain in one direction, while financial resources mostly flow in another. Funds can also flow into the chain at any stage. Chains operate within a complex environment of policies, regulations, institutions and support services. Achieving chain competitiveness is thus no simple task: it requires operational efficiency in each of its segments, coordination of transactions among chain actors and insertion within a supportive business environment. Finance and agribusiness today often go far beyond simple linkages and has often moved into integrated systems. Large agribusinesses may integrate credit and other financial services directly or indirectly at many or all of the steps in the value chain. Directly they can provide funding upstream or downstream in the chain, at whatever level in the farm-to-fork continuum. Indirectly they do so in two manners. First, they can facilitate or intermediate funding from a third party to the client or company in the chain, such as when an export company helps arrange funding for the companies or producers it buys from or sells to. Alternatively, the mere fact of being within a value chain is often sufficient for the chain actor to obtain funding from financial organizations.

 

Value chain finance is built not only upon physical linkages but also knowledge integration. Innovations in technology have made value chain finance what it is today. Access to market information is available for buying and selling with the ticking of an SMS on a cell phone. Smart cards, internet access and others let us communicate with each other – banks, farmers, agribusinesses and suppliers. As we will learn in this conference, there are many exciting innovations in this area. There are also many innovations in the products and services as we will discuss. For example, there are new ways for product-linked finance which uses the commodity as collateral.

 

A key to success in finance is to “know the business and the client.” Those who know the business the best are those persons and companies directly involved in the value chain. Having and using that knowledge of the chain, they can understand the risks and work to mitigate them much easier than a traditional banker who works with all types of businesses and clients. For this reason, some business groups have formed conglomerates which provide both formal banking and a range of agribusiness services to serve the value chain. The logic is to increase efficiency, ensure tighter control and accountability within the supply chains, and consequently increase profits. While this creates greater competition for other financial service providers, it can also create opportunities for collaboration and partnership.

There are many bankers here. Traditional loan risk assessment is still important. But we now give more emphasis to the market, to competitiveness and to the cash flow. We give less to the collateral, hence a big benefit for the poor. We also move from a supply driven offer of products and services to one based on the client and business. Good loan structuring can increase one’s credit capacity without increasing risk. This is facilitated by the new and improved technologies and products. Not all of these fit the small farmer – many risk management tools, for example, are more practical for agro-industries and wholesalers, but can stabilize prices and reduce risks for all producers and bankers. Risk mitigation tools can help stabilize income and hence improve borrowing access and conditions. Crop and/or weather insurance provide an income stream to those insured in case of failure. Forward contracts provide an avenue sell a product for future delivery at a specified price. This not only reduces price risk but also the futures contract can be used as collateral upon which one can borrow money. This is being used by small farmers in India and a few other countries but direct widespread use will be difficult in many developing countries. However, if millers and wholesalers use forward contracts, they can offer farmers prices with less risk and ostensibly with a higher price due to the reduction in uncertainty. Furthermore, they can access funding more easily due to the security of such contracts, thus providing more capital and potentially more competition and higher prices to producers. Another key to note for small farmers is the access to technical assistance and training. Without it there is little hope for many to be competitive.

From Honey to Money – Why African entrepreneurs should be interested in the beekeeping business

Honey is the most popular natural sweetener in the world and the global trade in bee products is worth millions of dollars every year. Due to its diverse use, the worldwide consumption of honey is so huge that supply can barely cope with demand. Africa consumes more than three times the amount of honey it produces. Apart from Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania which produce most of the continent’s honey, other large markets (like Nigeria and South Africa) have a lot of unmet demand for bee products. Beekeeping is an ideal home-based and low-capital business for African entrepreneurs. This article explores the amazing world of the honey bee and all the lucrative opportunities it has to offer…

What are bees and why are they so important?

Bees are flying insects popular for their role in the production of honey. However, not all bees produce honey. As you will find out later in this article, honey is just one of many lucrative products made by bees. Bee products are used in various foods and also enjoy extensive use in several industries including medicine, food processing, industrial manufacturing and natural healing.

beekeeping and honey 1Honey bees are social by nature and often live together in large, very organized and sophisticated communities known as ‘colonies’. A colony of honey bees may have up to 100,000 bees that are divided into three main groups (known as ‘castes’). The ‘queen bee’ lays all the eggs (which ensures the continued existence of the colony), the ‘workers’ do all the work (cleaning, finding food etc.) while the drones are fertile males who mate with the queen.

So, back to why bees are important to us. Bees are naturally attracted to flowers because of a sweet substance (called ‘nectar’) that they like to feed on, and as a result, produce honey and several other products from nectar. In addition to honey, bees are EXTREMELY important in the pollination of plants. This simply means that without bees, most plants would hardly be able to produce any fruits.

For thousands of years, honey, beeswax and other bee products were harvested from bees living in the wild using very crude and unsustainable techniques. However, beekeeping (or apiculture) has become a popular modern practice for commercial farmers and hobbyists who manage bee colonies in order to harvest their honey and other products. (photo credit: beegenocide.com)

How to make money from beekeeping in Africa – Products and Market opportunities

The value of global trade in honey and other bee products is over $600 million every year. Most people seem to think honey is the only valuable product bees make. Well, you’ll be amazed to know that the honey bee produces up to six different high-demand products used in a range of industries from food processing to medicine. We shall take a quick look at these products and their lucrative potentials in the market.

beekeeping and honey 2Honey is the sweet tasting juice (food) produced by honey bees, popular for its taste and flavor. Due to its natural sweetness and chemical properties, it is preferred over processed sugars and other sweeteners used in baking, beverages and foods. In medicine, honey is used as a sweetening agent for children’s drugs and the treatment of sore throat, cough, hay fever and burns. It is also used to produce cleansers, lotions and creams in the cosmetic industry and used as a nutritional supplement for children, athletes and people suffering from diabetes. (photo credit: showupfitness.com)

Other applications of honey are in animal production (where it is an ingredient in animal feed, and used to increase milk production in dairy cows). Honey is also used in chemical industries where it is used to produce mice and rat repellant compounds.

Beeswax is a wax material produced from the honeybee’s body. Most people who keep bees (especially in Africa) are unaware of the economic benefits of beeswax and often throw it away after harvesting honey from bee hives. A lot of craftspeople and manufacturers still spend a lot of money importing beeswax which can be produced locally.

beekeeping and honey 3Surprisingly, beeswax has a much wider use than honey. It is used in food processing industries as an additive and a common ingredient in chewing gum. It has much wider use in the skin care and cosmetic industry where it has been found better than petroleum jelly in making products like lip balm, lip gloss, hand creams, moisturizers, eye shadow, blush and eye liners. It is also commonly used to make shoe and furniture polish, and has been used for centuries to make candles. Above all, beeswax never goes bad and can be heated and reused over and over again. (photo credit: buy-beeswax.com)

Beeswax has over 100 industrial uses and is widely known to have a ready market both at home and abroad. Currently, suppliers in Europe buy processed or bleached beeswax from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania while other African countries purchase processed wax from Europe!

beekeeping and honey 4Propolis (also known as bee glue) is a sticky substance collected by bees from leaves, buds and sap of certain trees. Bees use this stuff to fill cracks in their hive, to seal the entrance hole when it is too large, and to keep the hive clean and free from diseases and parasites. Propolis possesses several properties that make it very suitable as an antibiotic and antifungal agent in the pharmaceutical industry. It is also used in natural medicine to treat various conditions, including inflammations, viral diseases, ulcers, skin burns and scalds.

Pollen is basically food for bees. It is a powder-like material found on flowering plants that is collected, eaten and stored by bees in honey comb cells.  In many developed countries, pollen is used in some expensive dietary supplements, since it is believed to have valuable medicinal properties.

Royal jelly (or bee’s milk) is a special substance produced by worker bees and fed to the queen bee. Studies show royal jelly to be a good source of Vitamin B. Like pollen, it is thought to have medicinal value and is used in certain expensive dietary preparations. It is consumed more in Asia than any other part of the world. Consumption of royal jelly in China alone is more than 75 tonnes annually. In fact, China makes royal jelly chocolate candy and wine, as well as lotions and tonics for natural healing.

beekeeping and honey 5Honey bee venom (scientifically known as Apitoxin) is used by the bees as a defensive weapon to protect the colony from intruders and attackers. This substance is responsible for the bee’s painful sting and is produced in the abdomen of worker bees who defend the bee colony. Bee venom is used in medicine as treatment for rheumatism and other joint diseases due to its anti-inflammatory action. It is also used to desensitize people who are allergic to bee stings and insect bites.

Pollination services are fast becoming a decent money maker for beekeepers. As we mentioned earlier in this article, bees play a huge part in helping plants to produce fruits. As orchard owners, plantation farmers and vegetable farmers work to increase the size of their harvests, beekeepers are getting paid to locate their bee hives within orchards, plantations and farms so the bees can do their magic! This is a trend that is very likely to grow in the coming years as farmers strive to increase their yields. (photo credit: vet.gov.az)

A quick look at some successful African beekeepers…

The 3-minute video documentary below is the story of Wanjiru, a self-employed mother of three children who was sponsored (through a community development program) to become a beekeeper and help boost her family’s income. Wanjiru now sells her honey locally and encourages other mothers to try their hand at beekeeping. It is this simple and low-capital requirement that makes beekeeping such an amazing business opportunity.

African beekeepers Limited is another shining success in African beekeeping. The company produces hives and all the essential kits and equipment for the beekeeping business (including honey extractors and centrifuge machines). It has more than 1,500 bee hives installed in different parts of Kenya and plans to produce up to 200 tonnes of honey for both local and export markets.

 The video documentary below reveals the company’s success story and how it has been able to grow a big business out of a modest beekeeping idea. Watch and learn…

How to start your own beekeeping  business…

Now that we have explored the world of honey bees, the potential of bee products in African markets and the inspiring examples of some of Africa’s successful beekeepers and businesses, it’s time to look at all the things you need to start your own small beekeeping venture…

Step 1 – You need to acquire some knowledge and skill in beekeeping

beekeeping and honey 6While beekeeping can be a simple activity, it’s important that you learn the skills and acquire the knowledge that allows you to manage bees in a modern way. You need to know how to attract a swarm of bees to your hive, how they feed them, how to harvest honey and other bee products, how to avoid bee diseases, the types of equipment you should use, how to avoid getting stung by the bees and all the other dos and don’ts of the business.

There are beekeeping training programs organised by government Agriculture departments and NGOs across Africa. But if you can’t find one, it’s not a problem at all. Thank heavens for the internet! There are several good resources on the internet that can give you all the information you need to get started. We used them during our research for this article and recommend that you digest them as best as you can…

Beekeeping in Africa by Stephen Adjare is a free and comprehensive manual on the FAO’s Corporate Document Respository. It’s ideal for anyone who wants to learn about beekeeping. It’s a very basic and easy-to-read book that provides a lot of detailed information about managing bees in the African environment. African bees are quite different from other bee species (for example, they are much more aggressive). This book is a very good resource for the African entrepreneur.

Step 2 – Get the required equipment…

beekeeping and honey 7To get the best results, it’s important to use the right type of equipment for your beekeeping business. The hive, a wooden box used to keep the bees, is the single most important piece of equipment you will need because it allows you to manage the bee colony and determines the volume of honey you will harvest.

While hives  can be bought ready-made from bee equipment suppliers in your area, you can also get a carpenter to make it for you as long as you have the right specifications. These specs are VERY important and you are likely to get very poor results if some measurements are too small or too large. Again, there are very good resources online that provide the ideal specifications for your hive. Our top recommendations are: Beehive Construction (PDF) by British Columbia’s Ministry of Agriculture & Lands and Beehive Basic (PDF) by the Australian Honey Bee Council.

Putting it all together…

For centuries, honey bees have served human demand for products like honey, beeswax and propolis. This demand continues until today, and has grown larger in size. The huge gap between Africa’s consumption of bee products and available supply presents a lucrative opportunity for entrepreneurs to exploit. Beekeeping is easy to start, requires very little capital (compared to other business opportunities) and can be run from home.