Close to one million vulnerable households across the country are set to benefit from a kitchen garden programme initiated by the government to tackle the impending food crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives Chief Administrative Secretary(CAS) Ann Nyaga said the kitchen gardens will help improve diets by ensuring availability of vegetables, fruits and herbs at the household level to enhance nutrition and boost immunity during the pandemic.
Ms Nyaga noted that the coronavirus pandemic has aggravated the country’s nutrition situation especially among vulnerable households hence the need for emergency support to produce nutritious foods that can also be sold for incomes.
‘‘With reduced incomes and loss of jobs in the informal sector, most households are not able to buy food and the inexpensive kitchen gardens are meant to cushion them and maintain healthy living during the pandemic,” she said.
Speaking at Kasikeu market in Makueni County on Wednesday during the launch of the initiative, the CAS said targeted households will be provided with a starter kit that will include 10gms seed of kales, spinach, black nightshade, amaranthus and 1/4kg cowpeas seed, a shade net for multi-story garden and a 50-litre water tank.
Each kit will cost Sh1, 350 translating to Sh1.35 billion for the one million households.
To facilitate valued addition Ms Nyaga said households with surplus production will be facilitated with solar dryers that have a capacity to dry ten kilograms of vegetables per hour.
‘‘The dryers, which will be provided to a cluster of ten households, will prolong the shelf life of the perishable foods and enable households maintain social distancing by reducing the frequency of market visits,’’she added.
The CAS said each county is expected to recruit between 6,000 to 20,000 households depending on the need.
‘‘Recruitment will be done in liaison with the county administration and priority will be given to poor households with large families, single headed households, widowers and widows,’’ she noted.
The CAS said a special focus will also be given to the youth who will receive kitchen garden kits to raise seedlings for sale.
‘‘There is no future to agriculture without the youth and to empower them in the campaign, they will also be supported with drying tools and training,’’ said Ms Nyaga.
The CAS noted that some of the kitchen garden technologies that will be used include multi storey garden, cone garden, hanging garden, aquaphonics, moist bed gardens, staircase gardens and use of containers like buckets and tyres.
Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana said his government will support the programme and ensure that it succeeds.
‘‘The programme especially during this Covid 19 is spot-on because it emphasises on nutrition and will boost immunity for people who have underlying diseases like diabetes who are more susceptible to the disease,’’ said Kivutha.
The governor also noted that the project can be used as an economic recovery strategy by both the county and the national government due to the adverse effects caused by Covid-19.
County Commissioner Maalim Mohammed speaking earlier when the CAS paid a courtesy visit to his office lauded the project as timely especially to Makueni, a county that experiences perennial droughts.
By Roselyne Kavoo