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252 Kibwezi households benefit from agrivoltaic tech farming

At least 252 households in Masongaleni Ward in Kibwezi East Sub County will benefit from Agrivoltaic Farming Technology aimed at ensuring food security in the area.

The Agrivoltaic farming technology method involves growing crops under solar panels while at the same time using energy from the sun to operate a solar pump to irrigate the crops.

“This project will transform farmers from using diesel engines by utilising solar energy to pump water into their farms for irrigation in order to grow food for their families and generate income for economic empowerment,” said the Director of the Kasser Joint Institute for Food, Water, Energy, and Security, Tania Pons Allon.

The director made the remarks during the inauguration ceremony of the Agrivoltaic Research Site at St. Patrick Ngomano Primary School on Tuesday.

This first project outside Israel was officially inaugurated by Makueni Governor Mutula Kilonzo Jr. and is supported by the Jewish National Fund-USA, the University of Arizona, the Kasser Joint Institute for Food, Water, Energy, and Security, Arava Valley in Israel, and the county government.

The construction of the site will be completed in the next four months, and the undertaking is set to improve cultivation, provide energy and water to the schools and the surrounding community, and increase land usage efficiency.

Allon said that the first three-year growing cycle will start immediately after the site’s completion. “We will support these farmers both financially and by sharing knowledge with experts through training them on the best farming practises, including pest control. We expect the project will be sustainable,” Allon said, adding that the project will support one acre per household.

She added that the initiative will do research on different food crops that will grow well in the area and, at the same time, introduce new varieties of food to children in the neighbouring communities to improve their health.

Allon further said that by introducing the farming innovation technology, they also want to change the mindset of the young generation that farming was for only the elderly and the poor.

“We want to bring the youth back to agriculture using high-tech innovations. The children and young generation from neighbouring communities will see, experience, and be part of this project that will inspire them to take on in the future,” she noted.

On his part, Governor Mutula appealed to the residents to take care of the project that he maintained will transform the people of Kibwezi East. “I want a commitment from you people from this area that you will protect this project with everything you have,” he said.

The governor lauded the partners for the noble initiative, saying it will go a long way in improving food security in the area.

The Lower Masimbani Water Project Chairperson, Thomas Mutuku, said that they will plant kale, Spinach, Amaranth, Butternut,watermelon, and okra, thereby generating income that will enable them to educate their children as well as combat poverty.

By Ronald Rono and Patrick Nyakundi

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