Government to invest more in agriculture

24 Sep 2019

The  government has invested Sh.140 million in procuring milk coolers as part of measures to improve smallholder dairy farming.

The  Agriculture Cabinet  Secretary (CS), Mwangi Kiunjuri has at the same time said a task force has been appointed to look into challenges facing dairy farmers.

He said 14 milk coolers have been bought for small scale dairy farmers in Trans Nzoia County to help farmers preserve their milk. Kiunjuri  who  was  speaking at Ngonyek when he commissioned a milk cooler for Koitogos Dynamic Dairy Co-operative society said that the task force will also look at the marketing challenges facing milk farmers and review the new policy that prohibits farmers from hawking milk.

He said the government’s objective is to help her people get better services and added that his ministry was working on ways of ensuring that a farmer gets value for his money through modern technology.

“We have built a bull station at Sh.900 million with the aim of getting better breeds and improved production and the price is just Sh200 for the semen,” he said. He said Sh.400million has been set aside to establish an embryo transplant kitty that will see farmers get the sex of the animals they wish to have.

Kiunjuri also issued Sh.5.2 million cheques to farmer groups from the smallholder dairy commercialization programme.

The beneficiary farmer groups will engage in fodder production and marketing of their produce. Out of 12 groups that benefited today from the smallholder dairy commercialization programme, at least nine ventured into fodder production and only two in marketing.

Earlier on, governor Patrick Khaemba  asked the government to turn its attention to maize production.

Khaemba said that challenges facing maize farmers all the way from production to harvesting had been solved by both the devolved unit and the national government. He  asked the National government to revive the small-scale farming equipment programme to reduce the cost of production.

“Farmers have been faced with high production challenges to post-harvest losses and we have not been able to solve their problems because of low funding,” he said. He added, “As government we should place a zero rate duty on hermetic bags to avoid the high levels of aflatoxin.”

According to Khaemba, though erratic climatic weather conditions destabilized farmers at the beginning of the year, the region is expecting a bumper harvest this year.

By  Pauline  Ikanda

Kenyan smallholder farmers root for value addition to boost incomes

20 Aug 2019

Ephraim Maina, a Kenyan kales farmer, sells a bundle of the green vegetables for 50 shillings ($0.5) during the low supply drought season often running from November to early April.

The small-scale farmer, who is based in Nakuru County, trades the similar quantity for 0.1 dollar after the rains come and the market is flooded with plenty of supply.
“When you sell at 0.1 dollars, you are not talking about profits. You are just giving it away instead of seeing it go to waste,” said Maina. “But I would be maintaining the same profit or even make more if I had a means of adding value to it and export it to other countries like Netherlands or China,” he added.

When there is a glut, he would collect the kales, process them, hoard them and sell them at a better price, especially during drought when the vegetables are scarce, posed the farmer in his 50s.
He hopes for a training on processing of kales into multiple products and a grant to buy machines to start off. “Our government can engage Chinese experts to train Kenyan farmers in the rural areas since China has advanced technology and conducts research on food production. And through the scientists, we can access Chinese market,” noted the farmer.
Sharon Cheruto, who has practiced potato farming in Nakuru County for the past four years, shares the same burden of selling the produce at a loss during high supply season.
“Brokers buy a 120 kg sack of potatoes for 8 dollars when many farmers are harvesting at the same time and they have a choice of whom to buy from. They set the price and you have no bargaining power. You’d rather sell at a loss instead of incurring a total loss,” said Cheruto.
The farmer said, she is yearning for skills and information on how to boost her income through adding value to the potatoes instead of selling them raw.
“The government should make an effort to help farmers like me make good profits from our farming. We hear through the radio, government officials asking farmers to add value to their produce to earn a good income throughout the year, but how can we do that if we don’t have the skills and information on how to do so?” posed Cheruto.
Experts observe that many farmers in Kenya continue to reel in poverty as they are unable to make good returns since they sell raw perishable produce.
“For instance, a farmer can harvest all the kales when there is plenty in the market and process it to sell it when the season is good instead of selling it at a throw away price,” said Kennedy Sigei, an agricultural economist.
“It not just about lost income but lost inputs taking into account there is use of fertilizer, pesticides and even labor,” he added. The Kenyan government foresees boosting agricultural productivity and farmers’ income through processing of farm produce for local and export market.
This aspiration is highlighted in the 2019-2029 Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) by Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation where the government outlines plans for establishing six agro-processing hubs to assist farmers in adding value to their produce. 

Original article

Mechanization key to achieve food security, KALRO

19 Aug 2019

Low  levels of agriculture mechanization, which stands at a paltry 30 percent has contributed to food insecurity in the country.

The  Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) Director General (DG), Dr. Eliud Kireger said  in  Kenya the level of agricultural mechanization was very low especially in small scale farming.

Speaking  at the KALRO headquarters on Monday, during a conference on the Baseline of Agricultural mechanization in Africa, Dr. Kireger  said that 80 percent of our farms are small and thus require unique and creative equipment to mechanize.

“When  we talk of mechanization people think of big tractors but most farmers in Kenya operate one acre and below where you cannot use a tractor and this calls for appropriate mechanization for these sizes of land,” he said.

The  DG  added that through a project called Korea-Africa Food and Agricultural Cooperation Initiative (KAFACI) they are working on a program on how to improve mechanization in Kenya by borrowing lessons from Korea, since their size of farms is more or less the same as in Kenya.

“We have 18 African countries participating in this event and we are lucky as Kenya since we have a policy on mechanization, which many countries don’t have and we are hoping to hinge on that policy to guide us on mechanization of our faming system,” he said.

He highlighted that the main impediment to mechanization in Kenya is the cost of the machinery, inappropriateness of the machines that we have, in that some are not serviceable due to lack of spare parts.

“Since the government removed the tax on some of the tractors we expect that farmers will be able to pick it up and import the machines that we use. Fabrication of the farm machines here in Kenya is very low and we believe some of these machines can be made locally at a cheaper cost,” said Dr. Kireger.

Dr. Kireger explained that the collaboration they have with Korea is on research and ways in which the country can be able to fabricate machines suited for the local small holder farmers.

“We are encouraging farmers and youths to form Saccos and buy the equipment through the various funding mechanisms that are available and they can be leasing the equipment to the farmers,” he advised.

On  his part, Agricultural Mechanization Research Institute (AMRI) Director, Dr. Noah Wawire said that in 2016 they established  the status of mechanization on nine value chains, in local small and large scale farmers and realized that  the levels were very low.

“The highest mechanization we found was in wheat which was at around 65 percent and coffee was the least mechanized at eight percent,” explained Dr. Wawire.

The Director highlighted that low levels of the mechanization means that there is a lot of demand on human labour which is very expensive and they are hoping to improve the level of mechanization from 30 percent to at least 40 percent in the short term.

“Maize  farming in Kenya is highly mechanized which we realized is not efficient and we need more research to see how we can improve the utilization of those machines,” he said.

At  the same time, the  Korean Institute of Agricultural Sciences Senior Researcher, Dr. Young Choi said that they are working closely with Kenya in rice breeding project, agricultural mechanization, post-harvest genetic resources and next year they will launch a new project, which will include pest control and seed dissemination.

Dr. Choi said that they are also focusing on capacity building and one young Kenyan scientist will be visiting Korea to conduct some research cooperation project which will last for six months.

The scientists opined that mechanization will help the country achieve one of the Big 4 agenda goals of food security.

By  Joseph  Ng’ang’a

Read orginal article

Farmers urged to adopt technology for improved yields

25 Jul 2019

Smallholder farmers in the county have been urged to adopt technology and mechanized agriculture to boost production and quality of their produce. Kenya Plant health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) Chairman Robin Achoki said the notion that mechaniZation is only for those in large-scale farming was misguided and a threat to Kenya’s food security. Speaking in Opoda Farm in Bondo, where ODM leader Raila Odinga had invited hundreds of farmers for a field day, Mr Achoki said technological advancements and innovations have helped small-scale farmers improve productivity.

“As Kephis, we play a big role in promoting agriculture and nutrition. We therefore recognise that use of technology is making agriculture more profitable,” he said. Achoki, accompanied by Kephis MD Esther Kimani, said the need to boost crop yields is a priority towards realisation of the Government’s Big 4 Agenda. “Some of the ways of achieving Big 4 agenda on food security include mechanised farming, irrigation, and use of quality seeds and appropriate fertilisers,” he said. Achoki said Kephis has enabled farmers get quality seeds with high nutritional value, tolerance to pests and diseases, and early maturing especially in light of the current unpredictable weather patterns. Dr Kimani said they had developed a seed sticker label as part of certification processes. “While at the agrovet shop, a farmer scratches the sticker on the packet and texts the code underneath to 1393,” she said. 

Read original article

15th CAADP: African countries urged to protect farmers

16 Jul 2019

Kenyas deputy President William Ruto asked African countries to protect their farmers by buyung local products as part of efforts to boost production.

He said there was need to come up with measures aimed at protecting local industries and farmers form cheap imports, urging African nations to trade more with each other. The deputy President said Kenya was committed to working closely with other states to speed up regional and continental integration as part of efforts to boost trade

The  Deputy President said Kenya was committed  to working closely with  other states to speed up regional and continental integration as part of  efforts to boost trade.

He said Kenya was among those countries, which have agreed that continental and regional integration is the path to transforming African  countries from being developing to developed economies.

Speaking during the 15th Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme  (CAADP) Partnership Platform meeting held in Nairobi, the Deputy  President said Kenya is determined to pursue free trade and regional  integration. 

Dr Ruto said Kenya was not only the first country to sign the free trade  area agreement but also took the lead in ratifying it so as to use its boundaries as bridges to share its prosperity.

“I  want to persuade you, political and knowledge leaders that this is our  moment to take steps that change the fortunes of our continent,” said the Deputy President.

 The theme of the meeting was ‘Enhancing Trade and Market for Accelerated Agriculture Transformation’.

 “From  our East African Community, which has made tremendous progress towards  maximum integration, to Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa  (COMESA), which is the largest common market at its level of  integration, the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) is a  logical next step in our national vision of greater integration,” said  Dr Ruto.

 He said African countries must embrace economic and political integration  in order to spur prosperity and ensure strategic security for their citizens.

The Deputy President said African countries have applied themselves  strongly to creating policies and programmes that ease these critical  challenges, but the success rate has persistently failed to reflect the  efforts invested.

He said the move can be discouraging, and may lead to pessimism and widespread skepticism. 

 “A  continent-wide approach offers many benefits, including scale, breadth,  diversity and flexibility.  This is why CAADP has become increasingly  critical to African problem-solving and African development,” said the  Deputy President.

He said agriculture remains key in unlocking opportunities for sustainable development in the continent.

“When  we compare agriculture’s contribution to our GDPs with our collective  share of world trade, we draw the unhappy observation that agriculture forms a big portion of a very tiny pie indeed,’ said Dr Ruto. 

He called on the need to optimize agriculture through implementation of ideas that deliberately build and exploit the many complementarities located in the sector and its value chains.

He said access to markets, research and technology dissemination and  increased food production are vital components of complementary commitments that aim to boost African countries’ individual domestic, as  well as collective continent-wide production. 

“This partnership platform is Africa’s policy framework for agricultural  transformation, wealth creation, food security and nutrition, economic  growth and prosperity for all,” said Dr Ruto.

readmore: https://www.ippmedia.com/en/news/15th-caadp-african-countries-urged-protect-farmers


Kenyas deputy President William Ruto asked African countries to protect their farmers by buying local products as part of efforts to boost production
Read more https://www.ippmedia.com/en/news/15th-caadp-african-countries-urged-protect-farmers

Here’s our plan to lift up farmers

15 Jul 2019

The rains have become erratic, new pests and diseases are emerging and there is an influx of food imports. Farmers are squeezed and in dire need of government action. What is your word to them?

I agree that our agriculture is ailing. About 98 per cent of our farming is smallholder and 2 per cent large-scale. However, the 98 per cent produce 70 per cent of our cereals while the 2 per cent produce 30 per cent. To transform our agriculture, we have to shift the smallholder farmers (below 20 acres) to high value crops (not maize) and make maize and other cereals large-scale crops as they were meant to be.

Usually, smallholder farmers are highly inefficient as they are largely not mechanised and are challenged by knowledge gaps. In our recently developed agriculture sector strategy of 2019-2029, we are proposing to come up with 50 new large-scale farms and also designing medium-scale farms (30 acres to 100 acres) to increase production and create more jobs. Eventually, we have to move the smallholder farmers away from farming into jobs as we industrialise. All societies that have developed have had to make this transition.

The government allocated agriculture Sh51.7 billion in the recently unveiled Sh3.02 trillion 2019/2020 budget. With this small amount, is the government really keen on implementing its radical proposals to lift the sector?

To realize the Big Four agriculture agenda, we have to implement the Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) in full. Of course this needs much more resources. The Sh51.7 billion is barely 1.6 per cent of the budget, way below the 10 per cent of public spending promised under the Malabo Declaration of 2014.

To fund the ASTGS, we need roughly Sh200 billion annually, much of it through private-public projects and development partners. But as a government, we also have to play our facilitative role, especially when it comes to supporting the smallholder enterprise. The good thing is that a shilling invested in agriculture will come back and even be multiplied because it is one of the productive sectors that create wealth and employment for the people.

The disconnect between research and extension is big. Does the government care about these two services anymore?

Agriculture extension barely exists. It is not financed very well and neither is research. Agriculture is a technical undertaking and it is knowledge-intensive. The Kenyan smallholder farmer struggles from the start as they do not have superior genetics (seed, animal or fish), they have poor soil management skills and struggle with timing, weather, pest and disease control and recently the erratic behaviour of the weather (climate change). Only 1 per cent of the agriculture budget goes to extension. About 12 to 20 per cent goes to agriculture research/knowledge, but not to the real work. Instead, it goes to paying salaries of Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) employees.

In the ASTGS, we are proposing programmes to train 3,000 extension workers to cover the country properly. The national government is working closely with the county governments using some of the donor-funded projects to address challenges in specific value chains. But we must invest more in research and extension if we are to transform the smallholder farmer. We are experimenting with digital tools to reach the farmer. Farmers can SMS the word “farm” to 40130 to see some of the solutions that the ministry has developed to reach them.

Our agriculture has been rain-fed for long but it is certain we have to shift from this trend due to climate change. Irrigation is the way to go but the technology remains expensive …

We have planned investments in new irrigation schemes, desilting of old colonial dams and intensifying household water pans to boost household irrigation. Apart from that, we also have support of World Bank and the African Development Bank to build resilience in arid and semi-arid communities. Water and soil conservation are key to sustainable agriculture and we are working with Kalro and other development partners to intensify conservation agriculture in the country.

The bulk of the food sold in the local market does not meet safety standards. Is the government eager to enhance the quality of food in the local market?

The Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) is putting in place regulations to guarantee Kenyans safe food. We are also working with the Ministry of Health to put in place a consolidated robust food agency that will coordinate food safety issues. Currently, a number of agencies such as the Kenya Bureau of Standards, Department of Public Health, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services and the Department of Veterinary Services are responsible for different components of food safety. In the next 60 days, we will focus on realigning and sharpening our food safety system.

The government plans to operationalise the commodity exchange by January next year. What should farmers look forward to?

This is a very progressive step. It has taken over 10 years for the country to adopt the warehouse receipting system, which anchors the commodity exchange. Through this, we hope to improve access to finance and markets for farmers through the warehouse receipts.

Agricultural commodities like maize will in future be traded through the exchange, and prices of commodities will be much better.

There are many campaigns to attract more youths into agriculture, yet it remains an optional subject in schools. Do you think the ministry should push for  agriculture to be a compulsory subject to address the jobs crisis and boost food security in the long-term?

To be a farmer, you do not have to have studied agriculture. I think the reason the youth opt not to take agriculture in college is that there are few formal jobs in the sector since 98 per cent of our farmers are smallholders.

Despite the fact that agriculture is responsible for 33 per cent of the gross domestic product, there are only 350,000 formal jobs in the sector. Investment in medium and large-scale farms will increase demand for agriculture graduates. Further, in our ASTGS, our first pillar proposes creation of 1,000 farmer-related small enterprises such as agrovets, mechanisation services, off-takers and processors and most of the youthd can find their calling in some of these enterprises. The ministry is working to come up with the Kenya Agriculture Transformation Fund (KATF) to support the financing of small and medium-sized farms and also fund the other farmer-facing SMES. This will help to fill the funding gaps since agriculture attracts only 3 per cent of financing from banks as it is considered risky. The KATF is, therefore, key to unlocking financing for agriculture SMES. It is alarming that the average farmer is 60 years, while the average consumer is 17 years old. We will address the bottlenecks that hinder the youth from venturing into the agriculture sector, which include lack of access to land, finances, machinery and low level of knowledge.

Most farmers sell their produce raw, yet they can add value and make more money. Can the government help?

The ministry is in discussions with the African Development Bank to finance the design and setting up of agro-processing parks in six regions alongside the regional economic blocks. For agro-parks to emerge, they need a steady supply of enough quality raw materials. We are faced with a chicken and egg situation, because agro-parks need inputs and farmers need markets for their produce. Pillar three of the agriculture sector strategy gives elaborate proposals and identifies zones where the proposed agro-parks should be located and the mechanisms for setting them up. This is going to be a very exciting space in the coming years as we seek to support the manufacturing pillar of the Big Four agenda.

Land sizes are shrinking and real estate development is taking over agricultural land. Does this worry you?

Yes, it worries me. Land fragmentation is a danger to agriculture. Economies of scale are important. In some of the places where the land size has shrunk to less than quarter of an acre, we may as well refer to this as gardening and not farming.

We must rethink our land policies and spatial planning. The counties and the Lands ministry must secure agricultural land.

Only 10 per cent of Kenya is suitable for growing crops. Apart from land, other issues that are of concern are climate change, the state of our soils, overuse of pesticides (which is killing pollinators like bees) and general land and environmental degradation. Sustainability of the agriculture enterprise will depend on the society embracing solutions and technologies that are designed to mitigate some of the challenges.

Author: ANITA CHEPKOECH

https://mobile.nation.co.ke/business/seeds-of-gold/Our-Promise-to-Farmers-/3112330-5194502-723w2hz/index.html

EAC Assembly calls for more funds to agriculture sectors

16 May 2019

The East African Legislative Assembly has once again reiterated the need to implement the Malabo Declaration as a means to ensuring food security and transformation of the agricultural sector among the member states.

A report from of the Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources on Budgetary Enhancement in the Agricultural Sector presented to the House by the Committee Chairperson Mathias Kasamba recently, states that despite its potential towards fighting poverty among the regional states, the agriculture sector has been growing slowly over the years and continues to attract limited funding from governments.

Kasamba said the sector’s funding is still below the continental benchmark of 10%. This he said has negatively impacted the sector and is a big obstacle in attracting the youth to participate in the sector.

African Leaders, in 2013, adopted a Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) known as the Maputo Declaration 2003. They agreed that all governments should at least allocate 10% of their national budget to the agriculture sector but very have implemented it yet Agriculture sector is key in contributing to the gross domestic product.

Engineer Habib Mnyaa called on the Assembly to collaborate more closely with the relevant committees in the national Parliaments to allow for the push of enhanced budgets.

Amb Fatuma Ndangiza noted that agricultural sector is crucial in the economies of the partner states and the region.

“Agriculture remains to be critical in all the EAC partner states with 70-72% of the citizens in the region depending on the Agriculture Sector,” the legislator said.

Pierre Celestin Rwigema informed the House of the necessity to secure ready market for farmers’ produce within the region. Furthermore, the legislator reiterated improved infrastructure would allow for smooth movement of the agricultural produce.

Why Agriculture sector needs enough resources

The agriculture Sector is a major contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the East African region, accounting for 31.3% in Kenya, Uganda (25%), Burundi (34.2%), Tanzania (30%), Rwanda (33%) and South Sudan (34.5%).

Recently, various farmers Organization from the East African Community member states presented their views to the regional Assembly where they demanded budget increment for the sector.

Hakim Baliraine, the Chairperson of the Eastern and Southern Africa small holder farmers forum (EASFF Uganda chapter), told East African Business Week that poor funding affects technological transfer between farmers and researchers.

“The agriculture sector is currently facing with the challenges associated with climate change, many farmers have lost their Livestock’s due to drought  but if government had allo9ocated enough resources , the sector ministry could use part of the financial resources to construct water dams  such that there’s availability of water during the dry seasons,” he said.

He added that limited resources means government cannot recruit enough agricultural extension services providers yet such professionals play a big role in the sector.

Story by: Samuel Nabwiso: https://www.busiweek.com/eac-assembly-calls-for-more-funds-to-agriculture-sectors/

Stop frustrating maize farmers, Wetang

29 Apr 2019

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula has lashed out at the government, accusing it of frustrating farmers’ access to subsidised fertilizer.

Wetang’ula said the state had put in place strict measures, including demanding for title deeds at cereal boards, before farmers can get the fertilizer. The senator said the move further delay the planting season with the government having already delayed the provision of farm inputs.

He said many farmers do not have title deeds.

“How many farmers have title deeds when the Ministry of Lands is still grappling with headaches of millions of unprocessed titles everywhere. It is not possible t meet that demand,” Wetang’ula said.

He was addressing reporters on Friday at his Kanduyi home. He was with Bungoma Deputy Governor Charles Ngome, Bungoma Knut secretary general Ken Nganga and Ford Kenya youth leader Wafula Wakoli.

The Ford Kenya leader said it was strange that farmers were being asked to show documents for parcels they had leased.

“How many farmers in the villages go to lawyers to sign lease agreements? If I have good neighbours whom I want to assist, then I don’t lease land to them. I simply tell them; you plant here to feed your family without the lease agreement,” Wetang’ula said.

The senator said the demands at the National Produce and Cereals Board were out of order and only meant to frustrate farmers.

“There is an old man with more than 20 acres which he has subdivided to his sons to cultivate. They don’t have title deeds. How will they be sorted?” He said it was time the governor reconsidered its policies or the country could be turned into a “supermarket economy that receives foodstuff from all over the world.”

“Very soon, we are going to have tomatoes coming from a desert somewhere in Israel. We might have maize coming from countries that are known not to produce maize at the expense of our local farmers,” Wetang’ula said.

He said President Uhuru Kenyatta ought to be serious in the manner farmers are handled for the food security agenda of the Big Four to succeed.

He urged Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri to allow all farmers access to subsidized fertilizer so they can plant in time. “I don’t think there is a crazy farmer who can buy fertilizer to keep it in his bedroom. The fertilizer has an expiry date which means it must be used immediately,” he said.

He said it was unfortunate the government was frustrating farmers; key stakeholders in the actualization of food security.

“It is the planting season and we know our farmers are toiling on their farms to feed this nation.”Meanwhile, the former Senate Minority leader criticised the government’s plan to extend the SGR from Naivasha to Kisumu. Those of us from towns that lie along the old railway line from Mombasa to Kampala via Naivasha, Nakuru, Eldoret, Turbo, Webuye, Bungoma, Miyanga and Malaba are dissatisfied,” he said.

Edited by P. Obuya

1 2 3

Search

+