Principal Secretary, State Department for Public Service Mary Kimonye is optimistic that
The National Youth Service (NYS) has the capacity to boost food security in the country if interventions were geared to harness farming potentials in dry lands,
He said the NYS could be a life-changer in the realization of the big four agenda on food security only when adequate support the channeled to the youth body to make some of the dreams in agriculture and manufacturing sectors a reality..
Speaking in Yatta Sub County, Machakos County where she toured three Service Units on Monday, the PS who is also in charge of NYS said the service had shown its ability to convert dry land to arable lands through irrigation, producing thousands of tons of agricultural produce in areas that record low yields.
She commended NYS for the amount of work they have done in converting the dry land into green arable farms, and added that the number of earth dams will be increased and power supply in the units stabilized to expand acreage under production.
“With the help of at least 10,000 servicemen and women, the Units have farmed cabbages, pulses, beans, green grams, pawpaw, oranges, avocadoes, maize, green beans cowpeas, sweet potatoes and cotton as well as kept thousands of livestock on the expansive land,” said PS.
Most of their produce is either consumed locally, traded within units or sold to government agencies, which is in contrast to the nearby private farms where locals practice rain-fed agriculture and only plant maize and beans which normally fail and are forced to rely on relief food.
During this year, NYS was apportioned a target to provide Sh1 billion in Appropriations in Aid to the government and through agricultural and manufacturing projects are able to achieve it, she pointed out.
Yatta Sub County NYS has the Movoloni Service Unit that has 70 hectares, the Athi River Service Unit with 3,391 acres and Yatta Service Unit which are all involved in agriculture.
The Commanding Officer NYS in-charge of the Athi River Field Unit, Samuel Maina said challenges of lack of constant water supply has limited their farming potential, as their main water source dries up.
“We have gone for five months without rains, and if this continues, our water source, the Yatta canal from Thika River might dry up, thereby limiting our farming potential. With constant water supply, we have enough service men to completely change the production levels of this region,” said Maina.
The Units also suffer from frequent power outages, affecting irrigation work.
By Muoki Charles