Kenya has entered a three-year bilateral agreement with the Royal Government of Thailand that will see the country benefit from improved crop and animal production practices.
In the deal inked on July 9 last year, the Thai government will train Kenyan scientists on modern and emerging agriculture technologies via existing state institutions under a knowledge transfer partnership.
Thai Ambassador to Kenya Ms Sasirit Tangulrat while speaking to KNA at the Nyeri Kenya School of Agriculture on Thursday during the handing over of assorted agricultural equipment and exhibition materials to the centre said she was hopeful the partnership will assist the country tackle the current food crisis facing the country following six consecutive seasons of failed rains.
“The Royal Thai Embassy engaged them (Kenya School of Agriculture) to set up this center two years ago to promote bilateral cooperation particularly in the field of agriculture. We agreed to help the Kenya School of Agriculture establish ground technology aimed at giving value addition to crops such as bananas and vegetables as well as soil health, irrigation water management and many more,” she said.
The envoy said that the Thai government will be dispatching a team of top crop scientists to Kenya from May for a two-week session where they will embark on training Kenyan agriculture students on improved farming technology.
Upon completion of the training, one Thai scientist will remain in the country for two years to ensure the entire programme takes off and the trainees are able to disseminate the skills to farmers across the country.
Ambassador Tangulrat said the ultimate objective of the training is to leave a lasting bearing on how Kenya moves forward as far as improving her food reserves is concerned.
“Food security and climate change are among very key issues of concern in Kenya as well as for other countries including Thailand. What we intend to do in this learning center is to share Thailand’s best farming experiences in agricultural development by using practical technology developed by Thailand which I think will be a great feat for Kenya and this will definitely be beneficial to farmers and local people in the long run. I believe that it will help relieve the problem of drought and climate change,” she added.
Joseph Muhunyu, the Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture lauded the move by the Thai government noting that the country seriously needs a shift on how it undertakes farming in light of the increasing dry spells.
He singled out improved technology in farming and addressing post-harvest losses through investing in value addition as key areas that will play a big role in boosting food production and boost earnings for farmers.
“We are happy that this being a training institution what we are targeting is technology transfer. We start with a few then the knowledge can be extended. We have realised that this area of Nyeri we have a lot of bananas and so this technology will go a long way in meeting the aspirations of our President (Dr William Ruto) in value addition so that we add value to our banana produce and cut down on post-harvest wastages,” he pointed out.
Among donations that were handed over to the institution included a walking tractor, soil testing kits, and organically prepared soil improvement additives.
Also present during the function was the center’s Director Mr Samson Nguta.
Kenya is facing one of her worst food crises in decades following six consecutive failed rain seasons.
This situation has pushed more than 5.3 million Kenyans to the brink of a humanitarian crisis with hundreds of animals already reported to have died in the former Northern Frontier District.Already the Government has kicked off the process of distributing relief food to the affected counties even as some leaders urge Dr Ruto to declare the current drought a national disaster.
World Food Programme Representative and Country Director for Kenya Lauren Landis in a statement to mark last year’s World Food Day said the international community was solidly behind the country in providing relief help to starving communities including scaling up food distribution.
She nevertheless called for a shift in alternative food rearing mechanisms including adoption of drought resistant crops able to withstand the adverse effects of global climatic changes.
“Humanitarian assistance alone will never be enough in Kenya’s increasingly dry and drought-prone climate. The key to better nutrition lies in profound agricultural shifts, such as adoption of drought-tolerant crops and water-efficient farming techniques; production of more nutritious crops like high-iron beans; improving postharvest storage; enhancing processing; reducing food losses; improving food safety; and establishing better connections to markets.
By Samuel Maina