“Usione mimi askari udhani mimi taka shika wewe tu. Mimi mkulima wa hali ya juu.”
(Don’t think because I am in the army I want to arrest you, I am also a great farmer)
This was the greeting we received from one of the men in blue who came to our stand during the ASK Trade Fair last week. We met people from all walks of life; farmers from different regions. Lotich had come from the Kenya Defence Force’s stand a couple of meters from ours with a desire to know what he could do to ensure comprehensive growth at throughout the year.
He says all farmers want one thing, results. Results for the hard work and long hours they put into caring for their plants. It’s a business like any other that requires the motivation of good productivity (yields) for a good year. It’s therefore disheartening when the farmer prepares his land, spends a lot of money buying seeds, ‘enriching’ soil with fertilizers, spraying pesticides and frequently watering them only to get half the yield he was expecting. This escalates the need to find a solution that ensures comprehensive growth for high yields.
Agriculture in Kenya
A research done by Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), showed that the agricultural sector in Kenya is the buttress of the economy. 45% of government revenue is derived from agriculture and more than 50% of the export earnings. Over 80% of the population, especially the small-scale farmers in the rural areas, derive their livelihoods from agricultural related activities. Additionally, 60% of the population relying on this sector for employment. Farming is, therefore, an important issue.
However, vision 2030 of attaining food security in Kenya will not be realized if farmers are not educated on the importance of ecological farming as an adaptive measure to climate change.
Unfortunately, most farmers like Lotich are unaware of the treacherous effects of industrial agriculture. This is because it’s the wave on which most farmers choose to ride on. Our responsibility as at the showground was to create awareness to the public on the benefits of ecological farming.
Good yields don’t only depend on the well-fertilized land, access to water and other soil nutrients but the quality of the seed used to ensure comprehensive growth.
Commercialisation of agriculture has resulted to total dependence by the farmer on external sources for all his farming inputs, including seeds. Whereas earlier farmers used to save and share their seeds, today they depend wholly upon seed companies for supply. Indigenous seeds or traditional seeds are more suitable to a particular region or situation than any hybrid variety.
Indigenous seeds are climate adaptive. These seeds withstand unfavorable conditions, are pests resistant and require less water and nutritional inputs like fertilizers. They have special characteristics such as fragrance, nutrition, and color.
This information is vital to all farmers, to whom we made sure went home with what we believe is key to productivity for the farmer who farms for the future.
Originator: Phyllis Ng’ang’a