Every business that has ever existed has served to meet real or perceived human needs. For example, people need energy to meet their daily needs. Cooking requires a form of fuel.  Energy companies meet this need.  In the process of meeting these needs, entrepreneurs create goodwill and make money.

For example, Steve Jobs shared his inspiration for making the iPad. In his authorized biography Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson,  the writer shows how Jobs saw young students carrying humongous bag loads of books on their developing backs on a daily basis.  Steve Jobs believed that this practice compromised the health of young people.  He developed the iPad so that young people could grow into healthy adults. He saw a human need and met it.

Human needs are either positive or negative. They can also be met positively or negatively.  For example, I define myself as an urban farmer.  In my small urban space, I rear broiler chicken and grow organic food in my kitchen garden.  It is a profitable venture for me.   

I believe that meeting the ever-growing human need for food is a complex issue.  We must source high quality chicken stock and seeds, use natural foods and fertilizers and reduce inorganic medicines and fertilizers.  In simpler terms, I believe in growing wholesome, organic and healthy food from farm to plate. 

Unfortunately, this is not true of all urban farmers in Kenya.  In Nairobi for example, due to our inefficient garbage collection and sewerage system, raw human and solid waste contaminates rivers and water sources.  These water sources are the primary means of engaging in agriculture. Urban farmers must switch to new water sources as well as invest in water recycling and cleaning technologies. The statistics speak for themselves.

This city of four million inhabitants produces more than 3,000 tons of garbage in a day. We can only collect half of it.  Even the collected waste is dumped in the city’s Dandora landfill.  This facility is already full and overflowing with hazardous waste. The rest is abandoned by the roadsides, open spaces and river valleys. Pollution is a major concern.

A few years back, Kenya’s leading newspaper reported that the bulk of food in Kenyan’s plates is contaminated with human fecal material. This has been corroborated by international health organizations. Our food supply chain has many health loopholes from source to market.  The bulk of farmers and agri business entrepreneurs in this chain either have no capacity to make sure healthy food reaches the consumer or simply don’t care about the health effects on the population.

Agriculture in Africa is the backbone of most nation’s economies.  It is the largest employer throughout Africa.  It is also perceived to be a low-class activity.  This is obviously a false perception.  We struggle to feed our populations, causing the price of food to go up.  It is also a national security issue as was witnessed in the Arab Spring uprisings ten years ago.  Agri business entrepreneurs therefore are crucial in national development.

An emphasis on food safety can also unlock huge business opportunities for farmers.  Contaminated food means that consumers cannot trust food whose source is not verifiable. This means that value addition, branding and efficient supply chain holds a key to unlocking more opportunities., Unsafe food is one reason for hunger in Africa, According to World Health Organization (WHO).

Engaging technology throughout the food production and marketing chain is a sure bet for any agri business entrepreneur.  Leveraging on technology in the production chain is an untapped business opportunity.

Boil it, Cook it, Peel it, or Forget it!”

According to IAMAT, they offer travel advisories to anyone who visits Kenya. “The golden rule is Boil it, Cook it, Peel it, or Forget it!”  the website says.  As agri business entrepreneurs, we have a wonderful opportunity to expand business at all levels of the supply chain and multiply profits.