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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenya seeks assistance from development
partners to transform agriculture sectors

by Peter Mutai NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya on Wednesday said it will seek partnerships to help transform its agriculture sector.

Andrew Tuimur, chief administrative secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation, said collective efforts will help the country meet its envisaged 10 percent annual economic growth.

"We can only achieve this once we transform smallholder agriculture from subsistence to an innovative, commercially oriented modern agriculture," Tuimur told a national conference on agricultural public-private policy dialogue in Nairobi.

He attributed low yields and rising soil degradation to traditional agricultural practices that are practiced by many farmers.

Agriculture is the key driver of economic and social development in Kenya and contributes significantly to food security, income generation, employment and wealth creation, Tuimur said.

Despite the great potential of the private sector in triggering Kenya’s agricultural growth transformation, Tuimur said, agriculture is still largely underexploited due to prevailing policy environment.

The government is working closely with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and the European Union to undertake various policy effectiveness studies to achieve full food and nutrition security in the country, he said.

Tuimur told county governments to collaborate with development partners, the private sector and farmer organizations to transform agricultural growth by investing in innovation.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

Kenya says reforms in place to improve coffee production

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s coffee production is set to improve once proposed reforms are fully implemented, an official said on Tuesday.

Joseph Kieyah, chairman of state-funded Coffee Sub-sector Implementation Committee (CSIC), said coffee cherry output per tree is expected to increase from the current two kilograms to eight kilograms.

"The increase is expected to push national production to 100,000 metric tons in the medium term from the current 40,000 metric tons," Kieyah told journalists.

Kieyah attributed the low production to inefficiency of the value chain that has led to current prices demoralizing small-scale farmers.

Coffee production is currently oscillating between 40,000 metric tons and 50,000 metric tons, compared to about 130,000 metric tons produced in 1987/88 coffee year, he said.

"Area under coffee has for the two decades dropped to 114,500 hectares from 170,000 hectares, a factor that has also contributed to decrease in production," Kieyah added.

A 3-billion-shilling (30 million U.S. dollars) coffee cherry revolving fund was recently announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta to help coffee farmers secure loans at an interest rate of 3 percent, he said.

The scheme will start from July.

Kieyah said his committee is determined to provide such inputs as fertilizers and other agronomy support to help the farmers raise production and shield against price fluctuations on the global market.

The government is aware of the declining prices both locally and internationally and is working on strategies to cushion growers against the effects, he said.

"We are pursuing the publication of new general and coffee exchange regulations, intensive marketing of Kenya coffee and audit of coffee farmers’ cooperative societies," Kieyah said.
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Kenya embraces technology to boost rice production

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s agriculture ministry said on Monday it will collaborate with researchers and technologists in Africa to increase rice production and thus boost food security.

Hamadi Boga, principle secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation said Africa’s solution to rice deficit relied on adopting innovative technology in rice production.

"The importance of hybrid rice seed in increasing productivity and improving farm incomes is critical in Kenya, it is notable that rice development in Asia has been achieved through the use of quality seed especially hybrids, replication of this technology in Africa is a welcome intervention," Boga said in Nairobi during the launch of the Alliance for Hybrid Rice in Africa.

He said the introduction of hybrid seeds will address rice productivity gap in Kenya and Africa at large.

"Our annual production is about 150,000 metric tons (MT) which is far much below the average demand of 570,000 MT, the deficit is met through imports which on average cost the country 13 billion shillings (130 million U.S dollars) annually," he added.

Boga said that the government targets to increase annual rice production to 406,486 MT by 2022, highlighting modern technologies in irrigation, mechanization, and adoption of high yielding seed varieties among the interventions to reduce the import bill.
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Kenya plans agriculture research fund to boost food security

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya plans to put in place an agriculture research fund in order to boost food security, an official said on Monday.

Hamadi Boga, principal secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation said in Nairobi that despite the bulk of the workforce being employed in agriculture, Kenya is yet to achieve food self-sufficiency.

"The fund will help the country to prioritize investments in developing new innovations in agriculture that will boost productivity especially of small holder farmers," said Boga.

Boga said that all relevant stakeholders including the public and private sector as well as the local communities will be consulted before the fund is presented to cabinet for approval.

He revealed that the fund will help Kenya to roll out high yielding seeds varieties that will enable the country’s agriculture sector also tackle climate change.

The government official noted that both private and public research with innovative ideas will be funded from the agricultural research fund.

According to the country’s policy, Kenya needs to spend at least two percent of gross domestic product on research.

Boga noted that agriculture research will help Kenya to rely on scientific evidence to guide farmers on how to improve their yields.

He added that agricultural productivity on key staples such as maize has been declining despite increased use in fertilizer.
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Kenya to promote indigenous vegetables to combat climate change

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya plans to promote African indigenous vegetables in order to combat climate change, a research regulator said on Monday.

Lusike Wasilwa, director of crop systems at Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), told Xinhua in Nairobi that urbanization has led to a shift in diet from traditional vegetables to modern vegetables.

"We are promoting traditional vegetables because they tend to be more drought resistant and need fewer pesticides as compared to conventional vegetables," Wasilwa said.

According to KALRO, the most common indigenous vegetables include the night shade, amaranth, vine spinach and jute mallow.

In order to encourage uptake of the African indigenous vegetables, the research body has developed improved seed varieties to ensure that indigenous vegetables can match the appeal of the conventional vegetables.

Wasilwa noted that indigenous vegetables are ideal because they are harvested throughout the year unlike the modern vegetables which tend to be seasonal.

She said that traditional vegetables have been portrayed as food for the low income segment of society.

"There is need for sensitization of consumers to ensure the public is aware of the nutritional benefits of indigenous vegetables," she added.

Wasilwa said that the country aims to boost food security and nutrition by mainstreaming the traditional vegetables back into the diet of Kenyans.

She noted that reliance on a few staple crops such as maize will affect the country’s ability to achieve food security.

           

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