Kenyan farmers urged to embrace Climate Smart Agriculture
Experts are now urging farmers to embrace new agricultural techniques in a bid to avoid losses as a result of climate change as well as to address issues of food security affecting various countries.
The Netherlands Development Organization, SNV, says there is need for concerted efforts among all stakeholders in the public and private sector to give more attention to research and knowledge sharing on how to incorporate technology in farming and variety of crops to invest in.
There is need for sustained innovation in areas like drought resistant varieties of seeds, environment friendly farming practices and better post-harvest management to reduce on losses,” says Dr. John Recha, a research Scientist at Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security Programme.
SNV is supporting initiatives aimed at empowering farmers to adapt to climate change through a project known as Climate Smart Agriculture – East Africa (CSA-EA) — a 5-year project to be implemented in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda at a cost of €39 million.
According to the project’s manager in Kenya, Joseph Muhwanga, the use of climate-smart agricultural innovations and technologies to adapt to or mitigate against effects of climate change is often limited to small group of farmers –mainly large scale farmers.
“Therefore knowledge dissemination to small scale farmers for implementation at farm level and climate proofing agricultural value chains will be critical,” he says.
At a workshop organised by SNV in Nakuru, farmers were encouraged to invest in irrigation instead of over-relying on rain-fed agriculture. They were also challenged join hands to construct water-pans for irrigation purposes.
“We support water harvesting and we will continue to invest in research and knowledge dissemination to empower farmers,’ said Joel Kibett, Nakuru County Agriculture Chief Officer.
Professor Pascal Kaumbutho of Agrimech Africa Limited told participants, who spends a lot of time with farmers in rural areas training them about the benefits of mechanization, urged farmers to incorporate technology in their farming to boost yields.
“With climate change you find rainy seasons have become shorter therefore there is need for efficiency in all the stages including land preparation, planting, harvesting, grading, transportation and storage,” he said.
“With potatoes for example 48 people will take a whole day to harvest on a one acre farm manually while a harvester will take barely two hours on the same piece of land.”
Farmers were also encouraged to join cooperative societies given that working in groups can increase their bargaining power and order inputs in bulk therefore, lowering their expenditures besides increasing their chances of accessing markets at better prices.