Farmers in Kiambu County have a reason to smile after an agricultural multinational Syngenta launched a crop-protection information centre for Kenyan farmers.
Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) is a Swiss based non-profit international development organization aiming at creating value for smallholder farmers by promoting sustainable agriculture technologies and activation of value chains that help farmers to increase food production, improve access to markets, and mitigate risks.
The facility which was launched in Lioki, Githunguri Sub-County will offer various skills of farming to farmers to enable them change their ways of farming from mono crops/staple foods to more diversified commercial farming.
Syngenta head of business in East Africa Mr. Fredrick Otieno who spoke during the launch said the timely launch of the facility will help tackle agriculture’s most complex challenges, increase innovation, and advance more sustainable agriculture for food security in Kenya, East Africa and beyond.
He further said low food production in Kenya has been enabled by poor agronomic knowledge and continued practice of traditional agricultural methods since there is no coherence in service provision or farm products readily available for them.
Additionally, he noted that Syngenta will collaborate with government institutions, youths, students and researchers to take farming in Kenya to the next level.
Mukuna Mutura, an extension officer with Syngenta added that the launch of the facility closer to the farmer will bring harmony between technology and innovation from the laboratory to the farm.
“Part of the problem is that most agricultural research still occurs on the research station, where scientists experience conditions quite different from those experienced by farmers, as a company we want to localize innovation and research closer to the farmer; this will in turn boost global food security through testing new varieties and training trainers’’, he added.
Mutura said agricultural extension to improve yields of food crops and close the yield gap often entails general recommendations on soil fertility, seedlings management and right use of pesticides that are distributed to farmers
Joseph Ndichu one of the local farmers lauded the initiative saying the knowledge centre will impact farmers with safe modern farming techniques.
He noted that farmers in the area have been experiencing low food production especially in maize farming as a result of purchasing and planting the wrong seeds.
“There is hope for improving our food production going by the clinics I have attended and training offered here, we now know how to practice diversified farming for example; initially we would plant maize and potatoes but now as you can see, we can produce wheat and water melons’’ he added.
Kiambu CECM for Agriculture Wilfred Kiara challenged Syngenta to set up such facilities in dry zones like Ndeiya in Kiambu West and Ngoliba in Kiambu East in order to make the areas food sufficient.
Kiara also urged the Agritech company to set up vertical farming centers in parts of Kiambu’s urban sub counties which have now become concrete jungles.
“I challenge you to not only focus on horizontal farming and also farm in more productive areas but move to dry zones and urban areas,’’ he added.
Otieno said that Syngenta will launch a second knowledge Centre in the food basket rich Uasin Ngishu county in the coming months.
By Grace Naishoo