Embrace modern technologies to increase crop production.
Speaking on Friday when he officially opened the Nakuru Central Rift Agricultural Society of Kenya Show, the Cabinet Secretary for Water (CS), Dr. Simon Chelugui particularly appealed to small land holders not to resist adopting new farming methods and technology – strategies that would maximize their production potential.
This, he said, would boost the country’s fight against food insecurity and encourage agribusiness.
The CS said county governments should partner with universities to ensure farmers access new agricultural innovations that will boost productivity.
“Our universities are doing a lot of innovations in the agricultural sector that can help increase production and also support value addition. Farmers should be facilitated to access this technology,” Dr. Chelugui said.
He said agricultural experts need to come up with ways of disseminating accurate, relevant and timely information to farmers in terms of what seed variety suits given regions, how to deal with pests and diseases, value addition to their products, proper storage and marketing of their produce.
Dr. Chelugui said unpredictable weather patterns are part of the new challenges the government is facing. He however stated that it was encouraging that innovators had worked out various technologies that would ensure farmers get appropriate information about weather patterns.
“Access to water coupled with climate change remains a major challenge. Farmers need to move away from rain fed agriculture and embrace climate smart crops that flourish with minimal amounts of water” he said.
The show themed Promoting Innovation and Technology in Agriculture and Trade has seen the number of exhibitors increase to more than 150 compared to last year’s 130 exhibitors.
He assured that the government was committed to providing the necessary funding for revival and research in the pyrethrum sector.
The CS urged farmers in Nakuru and all the other 17 pyrethrum growing counties to plant the cash crop since the government was committed to ensure that they ripped benefits.
He also said the government wanted Kenya to go back to its position of the best and largest producer of pyrethrum in the world and would help reclaim the lost markets in Europe, America, China and Australia.
“It is unfortunate that pyrethrum production in the country has reduced from 18,000 metric tonnes in the late 90s and early 2000 to a meagre 500 tonnes currently,” he said.
The CS who was accompanied by Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), Dr. Andrew Tuimur noted that many countries wanted pyrethrum from Kenya but the production was too low for export, hence the need for farmers to step up their efforts. He challenged Kenyan Universities and Agricultural training institutions to channel resources in agricultural research, innovation and technology as a way of achieving food security in the country.
To deal with the issue of food security, noted the CS, Kenya needed to look beyond policy actions to innovation.
According to the Global Hunger Index 2018, Kenya is among the 45 countries out of the 119 countries ranked in the world that are still grappling with food insecurity.
The report indicates that for every three Kenyans, one is grappling with severe food insecurity and poor nutrition.
The report further claims that about 20 per cent do not meet the required dietary needs that can sustain a healthy and productive life.
Drought, extreme poverty and poor governance are identified in the report as contributing factors subjecting people to hunger.
“Despite huge challenges, Kenya has made significant progress in reduction of hunger and under-nutrition rate,” reads the report in parts.
The report recommends that Kenya should prioritize food security policies at county and national levels of governments.
By Anne Mwale/Dennis Rasto