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Government launches subsidised fertiliser programme in Garissa

Livestock farmers in Garissa County have been challenged to embrace irrigation farming by taking advantage of the subsidised fertiliser programme sponsored by the government.

Director of the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), Jillo Gababi said that livestock farming was no longer sustainable due to the ever-changing extreme weather conditions occasioned by climate change.

Speaking during the launch of the 2024 long rains fertiliser subsidy programme at the Garissa National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPD) deport in Garissa, Gababi said that overreliance on livestock as the major economic mainstay in the region is no longer viable.

“Over the years the pastoralists have solidly depended on livestock as their only source of income. Unfortunately, the persistent and harsh drought that we have witnessed in the recent past has seen some of them become destitute after losing the herd to drought,” Gababi said.

“This programme has come at the right time when the government is now focusing its energy in the agricultural sector through the subsidised fertiliser distribution targeting to make farming a commercially viable sector,” he added.

The farmers are accessing subsidised fertiliser at Sh2500 per 50kg bag.

According to statistics by the Ministry of Agriculture over 7,500 majority irrigation farmers along the river Tana registered for the programme between January and February last year in Garissa County.

The ADC Director said the Government, through the Ministry is committed to ensuring that farmers continue to access subsidised fertiliser to cushion them against the high cost of production.

Shadrack Jirma who represented the ADC CEO Wilson Tunoi during the function disclosed that over 6.4 million farmers across the country have been registered through the Kenya Integrated Agriculture Management Information System (KIAMIS).

Jirma said the agricultural sector in Kenya being the backbone of the economy contributes approximately 33 percent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and therefore fertilizer is a critical component ‘in ensuring that productivity of the prioritised crop value chains is achieved’.

He said the Government, through the Ministry is committed to ensuring that farmers continue to access subsidised fertiliser in order to cushion them against the high cost of production.

Garissa Woman Representative Udgoon Siyad while supporting the government programme called on the pastoralist community to embrace farming which they noted ‘can be carried out alongside animal rearing’.

“We are telling pastoralists that because of climate change, they can continue with pastoralism and still do farming. There is no harm in that. I know we love our livestock but when we engage in farming it will be beneficial to us at the same time to our livestock,” Siyad said.

The Woman rep said that the region has been dependent on relief food ‘for far too long yet we can produce enough food for local consumption and export’.

“Our pastoralist women are generally hard-working because they want to support their families. What they require is the support and the know-how so that they engage in commercial farming that can uplift their standards of living,” she said.

Garissa County Commissioner Mohamed Mwabudzo said it is the responsibility of national government administrators to ensure that all policies and programmes are communicated to the general public including the ongoing subsidised fertiliser programme to reach the intended population on time.

The team later visited several farms on the outskirts of Garissa town where farmers are practising small-scale irrigation farming.

Some of the crops planted include fruits such as watermelon, tomatoes, lemon, pawpaws, mangoes and vegetables.

By Jacob Songok

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