How farmers can weather the shocks of climate change and gain food security
Farmers need access to technology and research-based information to achieve high yields in this era of climate change.
This was the message that resonated at the FarmKenya Initiative media breakfast hosted by The Standard Group at its roadside headquarters in Mombasa to discuss the interplay between food security and climate change.
Speaking at the event, Simon Maina, Head of Seed Certification and Plant Variety Protection at Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis), said that with unreliable weather conditions occasioned by climate change , farmers need to adopt resilient crop varieties and technologies.
“We need crop varieties that mature quickly, so they can escape the impacts of unreliable weather conditions. We need varieties that can withstand these harsh conditions,” Maina said.
He noted that farmers need crop varieties that guarantee high yields, are able to withstand the impact of pests and diseases and provide the right nutrition for the country to be food secure.
Maina has previously said that as a regulator, Kephis has certified a number of crop varieties capable of withstanding climatic shocks.
Beatrice Nyamwamu, chief food crops director at the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), said the country has yet to utilize the research developed on the varieties.
“We have not yet used what is available to us. If all farmers can adopt these early maturing varieties, we can ensure that our crops escape the effects of drought,” said Nyamwamu.
She added: “We cannot change the climate, but we can mitigate its effects on production. We focus on developed varieties, early maturing varieties and that is purely through research.
Regarding post-harvest losses, which are responsible for the loss of more than 30% of national yields every year, Nyamwamu noted that storage facilities are lacking, especially at the farmer level.
“When you look at the way our crops are stored, we waste a lot of food. The ministry has now launched the Warehouse Receipt System (WRS) through which grain can be stored in the right way,” Nyamwamu said.
She noted that conservation, which will be done at subsidized prices through the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), will allow farmers to access loans using their produce.
Director of Livestock Policy Research and Regulation at the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Christopher Wanga, said a new strategy has been developed in collaboration with the Food Organization of the United Nations. and agriculture to control invasive species like locusts and army worms.
“We need to approach our interventions in a concerted effort because a silo poses the problem of duplicity,” Wanga said.
While recounting the Israeli achievement, agronomist Yarav Kedar, managing director of Africa Agri-Green, said more needed to be done through the use of research and technology for Kenya to meet the target.
Kedar urged agriculture players to test new, more farmer-friendly solutions, such as reverse osmosis which has been tested in Israel and South Africa.
Eric Kimunguyi, CEO of the Agrochemical Association of Kenya, said that for farmers to achieve maximum yield, pest control products are important. “Pest control products halve the cost of food production and triple crop yields,” Kimunguyi said.
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