The government has set aside Sh.10 billion with funding from the Indian government to mechanize agriculture in the country through purchase of tractors.
The Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS), Mwangi Kiunjuri said the country is keen on promoting competitive and commercially oriented agriculture by utilizing modern agricultural technology supported by mechanization.
Kiunjuri said the state was committed in mechanizing farming by 5 percent annually so as to improve production for both large and small scale farmers.
“We are ordering tractors that can be to used easily, multi-purpose machines that excite young people to get interested in farming,” he said.
The CS was speaking during the official opening of the first Farm -tech expo held at the Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) research institute in Naivasha on Wednesday.
He further said the government is also coming up with a system through the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) where young people can be able to access loans to get subsidized drip kits to do farming, subsidies to buy pumps and practice irrigated agriculture.
The Ministry, Kiunjuri said, is running 16 projects with all of them having a component of mechanization and also a component that will take care of small scale farmers in improving not only crops but livestock and fisheries.
The CS further said that the provision of certified seeds together with mechanization was crucial if the country was to double its crop production.
“The President directed that we do 11 million tree seeding by the next rainy season and further the ministry will be providing 60 million pyrethrum seedlings so that we achieve the 22,000 seedlings required for one acre,” he explained.
The CS said if we have to utilize opportunities through mechanization from 4 to 5 percent gradually, we can be able to double production in all the varieties including basic seed for potatoes.
“Currently the country is doing 6,700 metric tonnes of potato seeds annually which can only benefit three percent of farmers involved in potato growing but by next year we shall increase potato seeds to 40,000metric tonnes that will benefit 30 percent of farmers making the country self-sufficient in potato growing and seeds that can be used by 3rd to 5th generations to improve production including for export,” Kiunjuri said.
The Principal Secretary Agricultural Research, Prof. Hamadi Boga said that the high cost of machinery makes it difficult to acquire equipment thus research must prioritize identification of suitable and affordable machinery for different agricultural users and levels of entrepreneurs.
He called upon commercial agricultural machinery agents participating in the Expo to avail affordable machinery across all counties in order to improve productivity.
Prof. Boga however, decried lack of data in the ministry thus affecting planning and issuance of farm inputs to farmers.
Agriculture data, he said is scattered in various departments and equally contradicts realities on the ground making it difficult to woo investors.
The Nakuru Governor, Lee Kinyanjui in a speech read on his behalf by his Deputy Dr. Erick Korir said a machinery census carried out in the month of July, 2018 that provided information on the number of farm machines and equipment available in the County showed they are inadequate given the large tracts of farm land.
This Expo offers unique business opportunities for individuals and businesses in Farm-Tech and the county encourages Public-Private-Partnerships in agricultural mechanization service delivery.
In the 2018/19 financial year, national government allocated slightly over Sh.50 billion to the ministry of agriculture for implementation of key interventions in the sector.
The 2018 Expo theme is ‘Technologies, Innovations and Services for Modern Agriculture’ and emphasizes the importance of innovations and technologies as key drivers in enhancing food security of this Country and the region”.
By Wangari Ndirangu