Kenya to step up agriculture towards food security – Kenya News Agency
The government is poised to increase commercial agriculture by at least 400 billion shillings as part of its strategy to ensure food security under the Big Four program, the State Department principal secretary told breeding, Harry Kimtai.
He said part of the plan was to increase gross domestic food production by around 130 million shillings through six processing centers and large-volume standardized inputs from large farms.
Speaking ahead of the upcoming Virtual Joint International Grasslands and Rangelands Congress to be held at the Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) in Nairobi, the PS said the main interventions were to unlock 50 large-scale private farms for to fill the deficit of production of priority value. value chains, which includes the production of fodder.
Kimtai said, however, that the opportunities can only be completed if the prevailing challenges of grassland and rangelands resources are addressed.
“There are many changes limiting the contribution of grasses to livestock productivity, including reliance on a few grass species and overgrazing,” he said.
The PS recognized that the impact of droughts on the population has increased exponentially from the 1970s to date, threatening the sustainability of pasture resources and creating economic and environmental challenges that require urgent attention to safeguard the well-being of communities, especially pastors.
He explained that rangeland productivity has been greatly affected by the frequent droughts and floods that characterize the impacts of climate change and variability.
“The Kenyan rangelands, especially the ASALs, are sensitive to these climate changes and are characterized by high incidences of poverty and malnutrition requiring frequent relief assistance,” he said.
The situation, he added, was made worse by the increase in the human population and the consequent shrinking of the resource base of the pastures and the rural exodus in search of alternative livelihoods.
Urgent measures and interventions, he noted, are therefore needed to protect rangeland resources and improve their sustainable use and livelihoods.
“Investments in the monitoring, rehabilitation and improvement of rangelands will go a long way towards achieving food and nutrition security as envisioned in Kenya’s Constitution and Vision 2030, and in line with the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ) “, did he declare.
The PS said the upcoming Grasslands and Rangelands Congress, which will be held for the first time in Africa in Nairobi, will promote the exchange of scientific and non-scientific information on all aspects of grasslands and rangelands.
“This very first joint congress in Africa is important because this region offers diverse and unique tropical savanna ecosystems, which are home to some of the most economically important grasses in the world,” said the PS.
Kimtai noted that the conference comes at a time when the government this year launched “Rangeland and Pastoralism Management Strategy, 2021-2031 which examines both reducing rangeland degradation, increasing the productivity of rangelands, land, technology development and adoption and business support in these areas.
KALRO CEO Dr Eliud Kireger said the institute is working to introduce more suitable and productive herbs and improved animals such as Boran and Sahiwal cattle.
He added that in order to address perennial food shortages, KALRO has also introduced, through its Arid Lands and Rangelands Research Institute (ALRI), a reseeding program, where grasses, mainly natives and adopted, are pushed back into the routes.
“We have obtained the registration of four varieties of pastures by KEPHIS which will facilitate the marketing of these varieties and make the seeds easily accessible to farmers for the establishment of new pastures and the restoration of degraded rangelands,” said the CEO.
Dr Kireger added that KALRO laid the groundwork for pasture selection work in Kenya by collecting and conserving (in situ and in the genebank) over 300 grass accessions from the great rangelands of the north and south of the Kenya.
The DG also confirmed that in the lowlands and coastal highlands which are currently experiencing droughts and in other parts of the country, Brachiaria varieties of grasses disseminated by KALRO have been introduced to support the livestock sector.
The next Congress to be held virtually from 25e to 29e October was organized under seven thematic areas of research and development on grasslands and rangelands with a balance between people / social / political and on more traditional topics.
The theme of the conference will be “Sustainable use of grassland and rangeland resources for better livelihoods”
In Kenya, rangelands occupy 80 percent of the land and are home to around 10 million people. They support about 70 percent of the national herd and 90 percent of the wildlife which is essential to the tourism industry.
By Wangari Ndirangu