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Tips to venture into agribusiness: Lessons from the Quality Meat Packers

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A good number of business owners would love to venture into agriculture profitably,  but do not know how.  Many shy away from the idea giving excuses that range from lack of enough  farming land to the lack of knowledge of pursuing the lucrative venture.
“Agri-business is the future of this country’s economy,” according to Diamond Velji and Rita Velji, the Directors of Quality Meat Packers  Limited (QMP).
The two, who happen to be husband and wife, are on a mission to pass on the  knowledge that they have acquired over the years to any willing Kenyan who  share the same ideals about Agri-business.
Quality Meat Packers has grown over the years and they are the only Kenyan Meat company that represents the country at the annual Gulf Food exhibition.
The event focusses on modern agricultural technologies and utilizing renewable  natural resources to enhance food production.
They believe that whether you are in an urban centre or not, all you need to do is,  believe, focus, have a clear plan and follow your dream.
“It is possible provided you have the will and the knowledge on how you should do it,” Rita said during this interview.
“Agribusinesses are being challenged to meet the globally increasing demand for food, fuel, and fiber, while balancing economic and environmental realities.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Diamond, who said the sector is evolving from a  local and regional model to a global structure, “making this a sector of increasing  interest to corporations, public agencies, and society at large. New technology is helping agribusiness increase efficiency and cut costs while avoiding wastage.”
I am sure many of you would like to know how Diamond and Rita has survived in this cut-throat industry to build one of East Africa’s biggest  privately-owned slaughterhouse and meat processing plant.
They started as a simple meat retailer to a vertically integrated agribusiness with interests in the production and rearing of fresh beef, lamb and chicken.
Now, they have built a small empire that has now embarked on a “fulfilling” journey of giving back to the society.
In their targeted list of people are 250 farmers- spread across the country- all  benefiting from their wealth of knowledge, gained over the years.
“We have walked with the different farmers … enlightening them, applying new strategies, ensuring we move at their pace.”  Rita was proud to reveal that majority of the farmers that they are engaging are women.
“I believe in women empowerment because they control the basic unit of the
society- which is the family.”
The farmers have undergone intensive training on how to rear a wide range of livestock. Rita added “Bottom line, they need to be able to profit from their farms and agribusiness.”
Every farmer that they have engaged has been making a minimum gross profit of Sh90,000 per month.
Over the last 5 years, Rita said she has seen major transformations where many of those who started off as small-scale farmers have grown and can now play in the big league.
Most of these farmers have been individually contracted by Quality Meat Packers Limited- to supply the expansive plant with meat.
In turn, the company is able to place Kenyan meat and meat products on tables and plates within Kenya and internationally, including in the Gulf Cooperative Countries and Africa.
“We get our products from the lowest level at the farm. This is one of the biggest advantages of being one our contracted farmers,” Diamond said. “You benefit directly from working with us.”
Their success, Diamond said is anchored on the people. “If the people are happy, so are we,” the 71-year-old said.
Quoting the words of Africa Development Bank President Dr Akinwumi Adesina, he said, “Agriculture was Africa’s past, but agriculture as a business is Africa’s future.”
The firm has employed 400 people and thousands of others depend on it  indirectly.
“All we do is about the people, enhancing the quality and flavor of our products,” Diamond said.
Quality Meat Packers is amongst the few ISO and Halal certified meat processors in Kenya.
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