“I’ve been associated with ICRISAT since 2015, when ICRISAT came to Siaya county in Nyanza province. These regions are rainfed, with just 500-600 mm of rainfall a year. Since ICRISAT first brought seeds of sorghum, finger millet and green gram, there’s food and peace in the region. However, due to lack of information, farmers are not adopting these crops. During the workshop, I learnt more about how these crops can be used to make tasty and nutritious recipes and processed for markets using small machines. I want to take this knowledge to farmers in my region to create employment opportunities for their children and protect them from companies that exploit them by underpaying for their produce,” said Ms Priscilla Roberts, an extension worker from Kenya who took part in a training program conducted to enhance capabilities of African NARS partners of ICRISAT in food processing (including technologies and business opportunities).
The capacity building and training program was held at ICRISAT, through its Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) under the India-Africa Forum Summit III (IAFS-III). The 15-day training program ‘Technologies and Business Opportunities in Food Processing for SMEs’ was conducted during 9–20 October 2017, to boost the nations’ economies by promoting food-based entrepreneurship.
This training program focused on several aspects of food processing, with key areas being the Identification and mapping of opportunities, value chain analysis and development, food safety and compliances, business plan development and raising capital for SMEs, intellectual property rights and technology rights, leveraging ICTs for digital agriculture and food supply chains, advances in food processing technologies, and the setting up of incubators for promoting entrepreneurship.
Participants obtained hands-on training on several technologies and learnt how to set up processing units based on these technologies. The training program included lectures by industry experts and talks based on personal entrepreneurial journeys by successful entrepreneurs. This gave the participants inspiration and ideas about starting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and managing them profitably. The trainees also visited the pilot facility at NutriPlus Knowledge Centre, Indian Institute of Millet Research, Centre for Entrepreneurship Development, Grameen Mall at Hyderabad and SV Agri and National Institute of Post Harvest Technology (NIPHT) at Pune.
“We have been exposed to a number of value-added products, like millets, sorghum and Irish potatoes in this training program. After this, I want to help farmers grow these crops. In collaboration with partners like ICRISAT, I want to revive interest in these crops and in consuming and processing them using appropriate machinery. Because of the workshop, I realized that in addition to banana processing, there is a lot of potential in sorghum and millets. I am now looking to diversifying into those value chains so I can get products of a higher value,” said Mr Adams Nkwatsibwe, Director, Noble Agro Innovations Ltd, Uganda.
The training program was organized with support from the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. Participants consisted of 35 delegates (including 16 women) from 12 African nations: Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda, Niger, Mali, Mauritius, Namibia, Sudan and South Sudan.
Under the IAFS-III, AIP has been entrusted by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs to organize three training programs of which this was the first. The second training session on ‘Entrepreneurship and Marketing Skills Development’ will be held during 12-25 November 2017 at ICRISAT.
Participants express their views on the food processing workshop