Kakamega County has a predominantly crop farming economy with livestock farming taking a small portion of the available land.
The Deputy Governor, who doubles as the Agriculture and Livestock Development Executive, Prof. Philip Kutima, says they are encouraging diversification to enable residents to venture into alternative agricultural enterprises.
The Professor says this diversification has been necessitated by the high level of poverty with over 51 per cent of the populace living below the poverty line which had implications on the county development initiatives.
He enumerated some of the interventions the county has undertaken for socio-economic empowerment in the past six years including provision of dairy cows to poor households, supplying day-old chicks to common interest groups as well as farm inputs subsidy to crop farmers.
“We are encouraging farmers to embrace latest strategies for crop farming including conservation agriculture, soil and water conservation, planting early-maturing and high-yielding crop varieties, agro-forestry and irrigation,” he stated.
Prof. Kutima added that improved post-harvest management and value addition are also being practiced as a means of increasing returns on investment.
In the livestock sub-sector, he said, adaptation strategies include pasture establishment and conservation, disease control and surveillance, use of alternative and resilient fodder varieties, formulation of feeds, use of veterinary services, mass vaccination, rearing of drought-tolerant livestock breeds and adoption of feed conservation.
In March Governor Wycliffe Oparanya launched the World Bank funded Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Programme (KCSAP) for Malava, Navakholo and Lurambi Sub Counties to boost fish, dairy, poultry and the African leafy vegetables value chains.
The governor pointed out then that food security was a key national government agenda and it has partnered with devolved units for the realization of this goal.
The county head disclosed that his administration sets aside Sh.200 million every year on agricultural projects in a bid to achieve food security.
He encouraged farmers to form cooperative societies as this would facilitate structured government support.
During the event, Governor Oparanya handed over a cheque worth Sh.53 million from the KCSAP to beneficiaries from six wards of Malava, Navakholo and Lurambi Sub Counties.
He said this year each of the 60 wards will receive 100,000 bags of fertilizer and Kenya Seed Company will complement to cater for more farmers.
The KCSAP is supporting fish farming projects in Shinyalu to the tune of Sh.34 million, Murenga Dam in Lukuyani at Sh. 45 million as well as Inaya dam in Butere at Sh.22 million.
By Sammy Mwibanda