Over 1.1 million farmers benefit from agricultural programmes

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The government, jointly supported by the World Bank, is funding various agricultural programmes in 45 rural counties to the tune of Sh67.9 billion.

The programmes under the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP) has contributed to mobilization of 1.1 Million farmers that includes 50,000 Common Interest Groups (CIGs) and 500 Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) across 19 value chains.

Under the same project a total of 328 Metric tonnes (MT) of early generation seed across five key crops namely Irish potato, Sorghum, Finger Millet, Green Gram and Pigeon Pea have been produced and will significantly improve seed availability among farmers.

Cashew seedlings. Photo by Wangari Ndirangu

According to the Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Ann Nyagah, Kenya requires transformation of its agricultural systems to make them more productive and resilient while Minimizing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions under a changing climate.

Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) she said is what will provide an excellent opportunity for transformation by uniting agriculture, development and climate change under a common agenda

This however can only be done through integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development namely economic, social and environmental that jointly addresses food security and climate challenges.

The CAS who was speaking after officially opening the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KSCAP) conference at Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) noted that the meeting is being held at a time when parts of the country are experiencing a severe drought occasioned by climate change thus bringing to the fore the urgent need to combat climate change and its effects.

“The effects of the negative impacts of climate change include declining agricultural productivity and loss of crops, livestock, fish and investments in agriculture due to changing temperatures and precipitation regimes and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events,” she said.

Agriculture, which is predominantly rain-fed and therefore vulnerable to climate change leading to, among others, unsustainable land and agricultural water management, the CAS noted has contributed to the problem.

Nyagah however explained that in 2020, agriculture remained the dominant sector, accounting for 23 per cent of the total value of the economy with crop, livestock, and fisheries sub sectors contributing a good percentage.

The CAS urged the research fraternity such as KALRO to continue the search for new Technologies, Innovations and Management Practices (TIMPs) and validating the   newly developed ones as the Country re-doubles its efforts to combat climate change which is a big challenge

“The KCSAP project interventions are anchored in Kenya’s already strong foundations and commitments to transforming food systems with a broad vision of achieving 100 per cent food and nutrition security,” Nyagah said.

Under the same a total of 172 scholarships including 96 Masters (MSc) and 76 PhDs have been awarded and the CAS urged the scholars to make use of the findings of research that they were undertaking to contribute to meaningful input to the growth of the agriculture sector.

“Scholars have been blamed, sometimes rightly, for spending a lot of resources travelling to the field or to collect data in their laboratories but they have not been as enthusiastic in packaging and disseminating their results for uptake by farmers, pastoralists and other agricultural value chain stakeholders,” said Nyagah.

Vinay Vutukuru, a Senior Agriculture Economist with the World Bank explained that all projects under KSCAP have been designed to help in boosting food security as well as improving the governance status of institutions.

“In the said agriculture subsectors, all the 1.1 Million farmers are now registered in a digital database and geo tagged while 760 TIMPS are ready for up scaling. They have been fully digitized and several of them are being disseminated to the 24 counties, “said Vutukuru.

The projects, he said which started five years ago and will end towards the end of 2022 include the 2018 National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP) which was Sh 22.4 billion and covering 21 counties and Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP) is Sh28 Billion and being implemented in 24 rural counties.

Other projects include the Emergency Locust Response Program, Kenya (ELRP) Sh 4.8 billion currently being implemented in 15 rural counties, the Regional Pastoral and Livelihoods, Resilience Project (RPLRP) being funded to the tune of Sh 8.7 billion being implemented in 14 counties and the National Agriculture Value Chain Development Project ksh22.4 billion covering 26 counties.

Agriculture is the dominant source of employment for approximately half of the nation and a major force in the economy, with a leading role in contributing to poverty reduction, adaptation and management to risks related to climate change.

Kenya’s Vision 2030 sets the agenda for inclusive growth and people-driven sustainable development, particularly under the economic pillar which prioritizes agriculture with the Country committing to building capacity in CSA to ensure food and nutritional security is achieved through utilization of TIMPs.

By Wangari Ndirangu

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