Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Dr Zhou Pingjian has challenged Kenyans to invest in research and agricultural technology to be able to address the perennial food insecurity that the country has been facing over the years.
The ambassador regretted that the country is not producing enough food for its 50 million population despite having rich arable land yet China is able to feed its over 1.4 billion people with less natural resources.
He said Kenya should copy China’s investment in research and agronomics to boost production and end starvation, saying it has enough resources to feed its people.
“Kenya accounts for 0.7 percent of the world’s population compared to China’s 80 percent yet it cannot adequately feed its people. There needs to be a paradigm shift in adopting good agricultural practices and entrenchment of technology if it has to move away from starvation,” said Dr Zhou.
“China on the other hand, despite not having the luxury of the natural resources and arable land has managed to provide food for its people due to investment in agricultural research,” he added.
He was speaking at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) during the handover of a Kenyan maize variety that increases productivity by 50 percent.
Dr Zhou expressed optimism that the cooperation between China and Kenyan researchers in agronomics offered hope in addressing food insecurity.
JKUAT Vice-Chancellor Prof Victoria Ngumi said the university was keen in collaborating with China in sharing the technologies used to increase the crops productivity and ensure it is adopted by farmers.
She emphasized on the need by farmers to adopt best farming practices including planting high yielding seeds and the use of fertilisers and pesticides to boost production.
Prof David Mburu, a lead researcher on new seeds varieties said farmers should not be left to decide on what to plant but should be guided by experts and extension officers.
The country has over the past few months been faced with biting drought after seasons of failed rains, with over 3.1million people facing starvation. This has forced the government and other well-wishers to intervene through provision of relief food, water and other amenities to help its people.
By Muoki Charles