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To end hunger, make agriculture compulsory subject in schools

Monday April 1 2019

By NYONGESA JUMA EDWIN

It is a great misnomer that agriculture, the backbone of Kenya’s economy, is an option that has always been left to the unlettered folks in the village.

It is an oxymoron that scratches my lungs that, in school, agriculture is an optional subject studied by relatively few students.

Incredible! What if we made agriculture an examinable, compulsory subject right from primary school?

Surprisingly, the agriculture sector contributes nearly 30 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), even when it is in a shambles.

TECHNOLOGY

Fused with modern technology, agriculture can help to alleviate the high poverty levels that many Kenyans wallow in, which has derailed the country’s economic growth.

All efforts should be channelled towards making agriculture a venture that can be pegged on as worthwhile. Having a proper framework for agriculture is a lasting solution to hardships encountered in the country.

Instead of lawmakers always demanding hefty salaries and allowances for themselves, it is, perhaps, the high time they considered looking for a permanent solution to the woes of the electorate.

PESTS

With modern technology, it is possible for farmers to practise agriculture in arid regions. Genetic engineering is geared towards introducing traits that can make crops resistant to pests and drought. Consequently, smart farming can be a great addition, whereby farmers can use mobile apps to calculate the crops available in their farms.

The perennial problem of hunger and starvation will be a happy bygone. Money being stolen in procurement scams by greedy officials may as well be used to invest in agriculture to achieve food security.

Proper agricultural practices can be the high moon of unequalled pride and progress for a progressive nation. Poor farming routines and techniques should be done away with.

SHOCK

Every year, there is an overwhelming number of jobless youth. That could be put to a stop if we embraced agriculture. It is a profound shock that even university graduates in agriculture-related courses have nothing to do with the practice. Some prefer white-collar jobs at the expense of proper farming.

In high school, we used to hate agriculture, and often imagined that it was a backward, archaic and tiresome practice meant for the elderly and the illiterate. As a subject, it has not been demystified fully.

Our agriculture teacher went through the wringer trying to convince a handful students to take up the subject. A better percentage opted for either business- or computer studies.

An Agricultural Sector Extension Policy should be formulated to create awareness among the youth and students on the value of agriculture.

It is high time the government engaged all and sundry in promoting agriculture to curb hunger and starvation and, above all, help to alleviate extreme poverty.

Nyongesa Juma Edwin, Trans Nzoia