Irrigation farmers along the river Tana in Garissa County have been urged to make use of the Kenya National Farmers’ Federation (KENAFF) website to obtain insights on how to access information on market trends, new technology among others in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic.
Talking to KNA in Garissa town Saturday, the KENAFF vice chair Dubat Amey said that the organization has stepped up the use of USSD (a short code service that is available on basic mobile phones) to get services straight to the farmers’ phones.
Amey said that farmers could no longer meet freely because of the restrictions on movement, group gatherings since the outbreak of Corona virus and therefore KENAFF had to come up with the site to assist farmers access required information and post their concerns.
“Terms like physical distancing, lockdowns and containment measures represent a new harsh reality for our farmers. The new safety precautions mean group meetings are no longer allowed, so we had to find a new approach,” he said.
The vice chair noted that the federation had to be innovative to meet the new challenges ‘and that is why technology has come in handy’.
He said that the huge growth in mobile phone ownership and connectivity, in recent years throughout the country has enabled the KENAFF Information Technology (IT) teams to rethink on how we access so many farmers.
“While the challenges that continue to face farmers are becoming more complex, KENAFF is ready to continue working with and for the farmers of Kenya for all farmers’ collective good and progressive socio-economic transformation,” he noted.
Amey called on the county government of Garissa to support the initiative by buying smart phones for active groups farms to enable them access these information services.
He also asked governor Ali Korane to recruit more agricultural extension services officers noting that the irrigation farmers along river Tana have the potential to grow enough horticultural crops for local and export market.
“Garissa produces among the best water melons, apples and mangoes in the country. If we can support our farmers, they have the potential to grow the economy of Garissa county,” he said.
There are over 300 group farms along the vast river Tana who grow mainly horticultural produce that include water melons, mangoes, tomatoes, apples among others.
KENAFF is a non-political, non-profit making and democratic member-based umbrella organization of all farmers in Kenya.
It helps organize farmers into viable agricultural value chains for optimal production and market access.
By Jacob Songok