The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with the World Bank intends to spend at least US$ 3.7 million to improve the food security and nutritional value of some 750,000 households in three targeted counties.
The Accelerated Institutional and Food Systems Development (AIFSD) program, and the Accelerating the Impact of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA) project funded by the USAID/Feed the Future and World Bank to the tune of US$ 2.2 million and US$1.56 million respectively was rolled out in the counties of Kitui, Taita Taveta and Makueni to improve the livelihood of farmers.
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is implementing AIFSD’s drought tolerant crops value chain component in the targeted counties.
Former Agriculture Principal Secretary Dr Romano Kiome who is currently the AIFSD’s Chief of Party said the projects aims to capitalize on Agri-science innovations and use digital technologies for value chain linkages and market intelligence
He told a two-day workshop on Climate Risk Assessment and Improved Agricultural Practices for Drought Tolerant Crops held at Makueni Kwa Kathoka Agriculture Training Centre (ATC) that the low productivity in the sector was due to failure by farmers to embrace technology and modern farming practices.
He expressed fears that the youth failed to adopt the agriculture sector as a business venture like any other economic undertaking leaving the aged who were reluctant to embrace technology to steer the production sector with outdated practices that were not tenable in modern times.
“The current farming community in the country is aged and less educated making it hard for them to adopt modern technology to propel the sector forward. Equally, there is little participation by the young people who are supposed to take over the mantle from their aged parents,” said Kiome.
Parents are not ready to surrender land to their young people. Instead the young people are more interested in other sectors of the economy, a scenario that has denied the sector required labour.
Value chain manager with ICRISAT Dr. Ganga Rao said the youthful population played minimal role in agriculture production sector owing to low returns
“The percentage component of young people in the agriculture sector in the country is low and the current farming community is also challenged in terms of technology adoption and age,” he stressed.
Rao however said that the inclusion of youth could be achieved through vigorous and deliberate training on better farming practices and the adoption of technologies that were friendly to users.
He said the provision of certified seeds and fertilizers was crucial as farmers in arid regions were encouraged to opt for drought resistant crops in the wake of climate change.
The projects intends to introduce high yielding varieties of drought resistant crops that have higher nutritive value in the semi-arid areas to cushion communities during the dry spells.
By Wangare Ndirangu