KUTSAGA, formerly Tobacco Research Board (TRB), says its decision to engage in commercial activities centred on the provision of value-adding commercial products and services to the agricultural industry has paid off.
The board made the decision following a slump in tobacco production and attendant levy funds.
Speaking during the TRB rebranding ceremony on Friday, Kutsaga chairperson Stanley Mutepfa said commercial activities were now funding around 60-80% of the organisation’s budget and ensuring the survival of the institution since 2010.
“Following the reduction in tobacco production and attendant levy funds, TRB (now Kutsaga) made a strategic decision to engage in commercial activities centred on the provision of value-adding commercial products and services to the agricultural industry, in order to raise resources to complement the tobacco levy and avail adequate resources,” he said
“Since then, a myriad of projects that started with export flower production in 2003 and a potato seed outgrower scheme in 2004 and then grew to include the establishment of a float tray manufacturing factory and production of attendant float seedling requirements, Irish potato generation zero (G0) seed, tobacco seed and seedlings, eucalypt seedlings and a commercial tobacco crop.”
This, according to Mutepfa, culminated in the establishment of a multi-million-dollar commercial tissue culture facility in 2019.
He said the facility had the capacity to produce a million plantlets per cycle, and currently had in production irish potato, blueberry, sweet potato and banana plantlets among others.
“This strategy has paid off in a big way with revenue generated from these commercial activities funding around 60-80% of TRB’s budget and ensuring the survival of the institution since 2010.
“Audited accounts for the year 2022 show that tobacco levy contributed some 17% of the revenue while 83% was from commercial projects. Essentially, these commercial projects have ensured that tobacco research continues,” he said.
In terms of technical services provision, Mutepfa said annually, 100 research trials were undertaken in the broad areas of plant breeding, plant health, pesticide evaluation and agronomy.
Meanwhile, Kutsaga CEO Frank Magama said the new branding and logo had been designed to reflect the firm’s evolution and growth over the past seven decades, its drive for innovation and the institution’s vision to be the premier agricultural research institution in the country and beyond.
“The new corporate identity encapsulates who we are as TRB and what we stand for. “That’s why I’m proud to announce our new brand identity — a new logo and tagline that reflects our expanded offerings and reaffirms our commitment to excellence in agricultural research.
“TRB is also undergoing a restructuring process to improve our internal capacities, capabilities and competencies to generate the requisite efficiencies for the delivery of seamless products and services,” he said.