NAKURU, Kenya, (Xinhua) --
Kenya has made strides in
agricultural transformation thanks to enhanced bilateral
ties with China in a sector that contributes over one
quarter of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
in promoting agriculture-related research and
technologies coupled with better farming practices have
been more broadly enhanced especially in the last decade
with Kenyan farmers being the principal beneficiaries.
a large scale farmer in Bahati area of Nakuru County in
the Rift valley region, is among hundreds of
outreach farmer trainings and visits conducted by a
Chinese professor in horticultural production, Kungu has
mastered viable methods of selecting pesticides and
applying them in an appropriate manner.
is the Chinese professor who joined the department of
Crops, Soils and Horticulture at Egerton University 16
years ago from Nanjing Agricultural University and since
then he has been instrumental in research on improved
farming technologies such as use of greenhouses that are
found on the university’s demonstration plots, crop
varieties and pest management.
currently leads the agriculture outreach programme run
by the Confucius Institute at the Egerton University.
agriculture-oriented institute was established in 2013
out of ongoing collaboration between the China-based
Nanjing Agricultural University and Kenya’s Egerton
among many farmers in Nakuru County who have benefitted
from Liu’s agri-information and skills imparting
“I became an
informed farmer on use of pesticides since I attended a
training session by Liu sometime in 2006. I have applied
that knowledge since then in growing my tomatoes,
cabbages, maize and beans,” Kungu told Xinhua during an
interview earlier this week.
been eking out a living from farming for two decades and
is now growing at least three different types of crops
in his farm measuring 15 acres at any given planting
the knowledge on pest management, Kungu said he has
become more strategic in controlling invasion of
cutworms, thrips and whiteflies.
“I take a
keen look at the leaves and I immediately spray the
crops if I see anything that looks like a larva or some
whitish trail on the covers,” said Kungu.
outreach session, the farmer said he learnt how to check
for any pest or disease attack and decide on appropriate
agrochemical to use. Also, the right time and best way
to apply the chemicals.
“Now I can
comfortably advice other farmers on how to use the
pesticides and they come back for more guidance or refer
others to me. It always feels great when I assist a
fellow farmer to avoid losing his crops because pests
can make you lose hope in farming,” he said.
largely an agriculture-driven economy with the
government pegging hopes on its expansion to raise
annual growth by at least 5 points to hit the 10 percent
mark. The country is presently riding on an average
annual growth of 5.9 percent.
years, agriculture has maintained a steady share of not
less than 24 percent contribution to the GDP despite the
harsh weather conditions and emergence of destructive
diseases and pests.
percent of the Kenyan population derives their source of
living from agriculture either directly or indirectly.
grown by small and large scale farmers ends up in stores
of groceries in towns thereby creating a means of income
for those off-farms.
is very important to farmers, said Liu, adding the
outreach programme which since its inception has reached
out to more than 400 farmers and agricultural extension
officers across five counties.
be aware of a new farming technology or even gained
access to it but how to use it comes in as a major
challenge,” said Liu.
horticultural expert said their efforts of extending
agricultural services has yielded fruits as many farmers
have managed to boost their harvests by efficiently
adopting high return farming systems particularly
greenhouses and following best crop management
they conduct the outreach programme together with Kenyan
crop scientists and a backup of fellow experts from
Nanjing Agricultural University.
collaboration between the two universities has also
yielded to establishment of a crop molecular laboratory
at Egerton, launched in 2015.
The lab is
aiding in carrying out research on crop varieties and
pests in addition to instructing students who are then
interned with farmers and as a result transfer the
knowledge to the key targets of the research activities,
said Morwani Gesimba, chairperson of Egerton
University’s Department of Crop, Horticulture and Soils.
“We have a
cutting edge lab, the best in the region; which we are
using to train students who upon graduation go into
working in the public and private sector,” he said.
collaborative research, Gesimba said they have developed
new technologies such as mushroom production and high
displayed in the demonstration fields at Egerton
University and farmers from different parts of the
country frequently visit them to gain practical
experience on their performance, he said.