Why Every Farmer Should Consider Value-Added Agriculture
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread rapidly across the globe. To contain the spread of the virus, many cities and regions across the world have been shut down; putting a halt to day-to-day activities.
Since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Kenya, it has not been business as usual. Agriculture is one of the sectors that has been significantly affected by the pandemic.
This global health risk teaches us the importance of preparedness for situations that affect food supply chain in the country.
Farmers should use this pandemic as a case study, to come up with measures they can adopt to ensure their production is not paralyzed and they maintain their cash flow; during such crises.
Value added agriculture is something every farmer should consider as a way of maintaining the efficacy of their produce for later sale.
Value addition focuses on increasing the value of agricultural produce. This is achieved through processing, drying, cooling, pasteurization, packaging, extracting or any other process that changes raw agricultural commodity into a new product.
Some good examples include; dairy farmers turning milk into yogurt, cheese, butter and other dairy products or fruit farmers turning fruits to juice, jam, fruit pulp and for potato, cassava and banana farmers using their produce to make crisps.
Benefits of value added agribusinesses
Value addition minimizes post-harvest losses due to product quality deterioration as it increases the quality of products and their shelf life. Processing also eases packaging and transportation of agricultural products.
For farmers looking to expand their revenue stream, value addition provides opportunities to new markets both locally and internationally; and increases profit margins.
Moreover, value addition creates new jobs along the agricultural value chain.
Challenges of value added agriculture
One of the largest hurdles to overcome is that of inadequate capacity. As much as some farmers would like to venture into value added farming, they lack the necessary information and technical know how.
Farmers require access to information on food business and safety regulations as well as new innovations available to enrich value addition. For instance, how to put together recipes or formulations for products they would like to develop.
It is therefore critical for the country, through relevant authorities to have policies that encourage growth and competitiveness of local industries.
Another significant challenge for starting a value-added agribusiness is inadequate finances as some innovations may require huge funding. This includes finances to purchase machinery and equipment as well as for marketing; as a lot of product awareness is required.
Farmers can come together and form groups or cooperatives to come up with the capital needed or work with financial institutions that partner with farmers. Additionally, farmers can partner with already established small-scale processing enterprises to create new markets for higher value farm products.