Kenya: Government prioritizes sustainable agricultural practices to build resilience to climate change shocks

Nakuru — The government has prioritized sustainable agricultural practices in its policies and budget to ensure food and nutrition security and build resilience to climate change shocks.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said various state agencies, working with partners from county governments, local and international businesses and research institutes, are building capacity for small and large farmers to practice sustainable agriculture in Kenya to improve crop yields, boost the economy and help mitigate climate change.

Munya noted that agriculture is extremely vulnerable to climate change, especially in Kenya, where crops depend on regular, sufficient and predictable rainfall.

“Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns have created extreme weather conditions such as flash floods, drought and locust invasions that have not only reduced crop yields but fueled regional disputes over dwindling access to essential resources,” the CS said.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) annual trade fair in Nakuru, Munya said the partnership is also building resilience in smallholder farming and pastoral communities that depend on rain-fed agriculture. developing climate-smart agricultural practices, strengthening agricultural research and climate-smart seed systems, and agro-meteorological and advisory services.

“Sustainable agriculture is about increasing profitable farm incomes, protecting the environment, improving the quality of life of farming communities and increasing production for human food and fiber needs, he said. .

The show, which has resumed after a two-year lull due to the Covid-19 pandemic, attracted 313 exhibitors, down from the 330 exhibitors who attended the 2019 event.

As part of the Big Four Agenda, Munya said the government is implementing measures and interventions to ensure food and nutrition security for all Kenyans.

These measures include supporting the large-scale production of staple foods, expanding irrigation systems, improving access to agricultural inputs, and supporting smallholder farmers to sustainably produce and market produce. basic.

Meanwhile, the National Treasury has proposed in its 2022/2023 budget statement to issue 147 million shillings for the Climate-Smart Agriculture Productivity Project and 850 million shillings to improve drought resilience and livelihoods. durable.

About 1.5 billion shillings will be allocated to the small-scale, value-added irrigation project. The food and nutrition sector will receive 46.7 billion shillings in the budget.

Munya listed some of the climate-smart agricultural practices like developing and using drought and heat tolerant crop varieties, finding use for crop wastes, training on costs and benefits crop insurance, reduction of post-harvest losses through the support of agricultural machinery. , the adoption of organic pesticides for chickpea farmers, the conservation of agricultural practices such as zero tillage and mulching, the adoption of a warehouse receipt system and the use of waste for biogas.

“For pastoralists, the practices involve changing herd composition from cattle to goats and/or camels, while in dairy farming it involves providing feed supplements to increase productivity, providing water, improve collection systems to reduce spoilage and biogas systems to provide households with energy and reduce emissions from manure,” he explained.

According to the CS, aquaculture involves the development of integrated systems that utilize waste from chickens reared for eggs or meat in fish farming to reduce fertilizer and feed costs and maximize profits and adopt finger pond technology by digging ponds in wetlands that are naturally filled. with water and populated with natural fish as the lake level rises.

Munya said the 2022-2026 Strategic Plan of the Multi-Stakeholder Climate-Smart Agriculture Platform (CSA-MSP), led by the Ministry of Agriculture, aims to equip farmers with climate adaptation practices. climate action, aimed at increasing food production and therefore reducing food production. prices.

He said hundreds of farmer groups in arid and semi-arid regions had been trained in climate-smart agriculture and received material support such as certified drought-resistant seeds, farming tools and animal supplements for increased productivity.

Communities are also trained on how to deal with climatic disasters in terms of natural resource and risk management in order to be self-reliant.

“The training also targeted fodder production to avoid communal conflicts seen during drought periods and to prevent animals from being emaciated and dying. Our main goal is to build climate-resilient communities and strengthen local institutions,” Munya added.

He revealed that the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) was developing a variety of seeds, breeds of goats and cattle that, apart from being high yielding, were resistant to drought and disease.

And as a way to tackle climate change, the SC urged Kenyans to embrace urban agriculture by creating vegetable gardens, while diversifying from maize to coffee, passion fruit, pyrethrum, macadamia, avocado, potato and market gardening.

He said developing a new rust-resistant variety of wheat would reduce the country’s dependence on imports.

Munya hailed Egerton University for developing five new varieties of sorghum seeds designed to produce industrial feedstocks in the manufacture of alcoholic beverages, bakery products, animal feed and ethanol.

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