Farming clinics key in boosting productivity

Friday July 15 2016

Bimal Kantaria

Bimal Kantaria, the managing director, Elgon Kenya Limited. Elgon Kenya Ltd and Seeds of Gold will be holding a series of farming clinics. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By BIMAL KANTARIA
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The still fresh visits to Kenya by Israeli and Indian leaders this past week are significant to the country’s agricultural industry.

While the land of the Jews is a leading producer and exporter of some of the world’s revolutionary farming technologies, the densely populated Asian nation registers some of the highest land productivity levels globally not forgetting it is a manufacturer of agriculture machineries and other inputs.

Both Benjamin Netanyahu and Narendra Modi, Israeli and Indian Prime Ministers, respectively, came to Kenya within days of each other at a time reports from the World Economic Forum reiterated that land is coming under extreme pressure from runaway population explosion.

Many people now depend on one acre compared to just three decades ago. Experts think that it can feed even more, but it has to be made more productive.

Climate change hasn’t made things any better as growers have to grapple with erratic rainfall, extreme hot and cold weather and new pests and diseases that come with climatic variations.

Israel, the tiny giant, is credited with developing the drip irrigation technology that has revolutionised farming being the most water efficient.

Those who have followed Israel’s agriculture development know why it is a global attraction where visitors troop in their thousands to see the wonder of farming in a desert where land and water are scarce. 

The African Green Revolution Alliance reports that soils are tired and winning the war against hunger must start with replenishing our soils to feed healthy crops that are not only more productive but also resilient to drought, pests and diseases.

The good news is that technologies have been developed to help farmers cope with the challenges and return the one acre to high productivity.

From fertilisers, seeds, land preparation, crop protection, harvesting, storage, processing and preservation among other interventions, it is indeed possible to feed the ballooning population.

AFFORDABLE FARM INPUTS

The bad news is the limited access to knowledge and affordability of these products and technologies. Although many examples of best practices locally and in the developed countries abound, access to the same by resource poor small producers remains the biggest hurdle to realisation of the full productivity potential.

It is in the light of this that today, we at Elgon Kenya Limited and Seeds of Goldhold the first of a series of farming clinics. The clinics are a platform for farmers to interact with experts and agro-input suppliers.

Today’s event is not an isolated project at the Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organisation, Kandara station.

In the past we have partnered with Seeds of Goldto develop the National Farmers Awards, a scheme we started in 2013 with the State Department of Agriculture to reward the best among farmers on realisation that farm heroes went unrecognised despite the critical role they play in producing the most basic of human needs – food.

At Elgon Kenya we have taken it as our responsibility to avail and partner with initiatives, products and technologies aimed at improving productivity, the Farming Clinics and the awards being part of this undertaking.

To get to the bottom of the production pyramid, we have developed the ‘’kadogo’’ agriculture economy to make it affordable for small growers to access vital inputs.

These range from smaller packs of seed, fertiliser and irrigation kits.

We are taking this to a new level by partnering with media to reach out to the a wider audience so that we can put as many producers as possible into the higher production targets and this way we can together make the world food secure.

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The writer is managing director, Elgon Kenya, a leading agro inputs manufacturer.