The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Stephen Kiama and the Managing Director, Elgon Kenya Limited, Dr. Bimal Kantaria, toured Kabete Campus on 14th October, 2021 to identify the site for the establishment of the proposed Resource and Innovation Centre. Prof. Kiama and Dr. Bimal Kantaria were accompanied by members of the project committee drawn from various departments in the University, led by Prof. Margaret Hutchinson, the Associate Vice Chancellor Research Innovation and Enterprise. They were received by the Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Prof. Rose Nyikal, and the Dean, Faculty of Vaterinary Medicine, Prof. John Mande.
Elgon Kenya is a leading agri-inputs supplier in the East African region supplying chemicals, fertilizers, seeds, irrigation, greenhouse sheeting, plastics, nets, packaging materials and animal health products.
The visit was a follow up to the courtesy call by Dr. Bimal Kantaria to the Vice Chancellor on 5th October, 2021 where it was agreed that Elgon Kenya will fund the construction and establishment of a Resource and Innovation Centre at Kabete campus. The proposed Resource and Innovation Centre will be a public-private sector initiative consist of teaching facilities, laboratories and agricultural technology demonstration hub.
The objective of the resource and innovation centre will be to offer practical, holistic, street-wise training to agricultural graduates by bringing together agricultural technologies in production, postharvest handling, food safety and food security. Dr. Kantaria expressed the importance of academia engaging more with the private sector in order to build capacity among continuing and graduating students. He noted that the resource centre will be integral in bridging the gap between industry and academia by providing students with the practical skills necessary to grow the Agricultural Sector.
The students and fresh graduates in the agricultural and veterinary sciences will acquire a more hands-on approach with regards to modern methods of farming and how to incorporate technology in a bid to increase yields, save on costs and time and improve productivity. Thus, the innovation centre will interface students with the needs of the industry. The resource and innovation centre be instrumental in persuading the youth to take up agriculture instead of relying on white collar jobs for employment.
The committee will be expanded to include architects and engineers to drawn up the MoU between the University of Nairobi and Elgon Kenya, the project concept and vision.