Kenya on Tuesday called for the modernization of agriculture which could lift millions of people out poverty.
Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Willy Bett said that manufacturers of agricultural tools need to lead in the mechanization of agriculture in the country.
“Farmers require tools that are designed to suit their local conditions and therefore the need to embrace technological change and innovation in agriculture,” Bett said in Nairobi during the First National Conservation Agriculture conference in Kenya.
He observed that currently agriculture is a reserve of the elderly because most of farming activities are conservative with low uptake of technology.
“We must introduce technology and innovation to keep pace with the needs brought about by the changing times. We must take agriculture as a business other than an age-long tradition by attracting the youth into the sector,” he added.
Farming remains the backbone of Kenya’s economy with 70 percent of rural communities depending on agriculture to meet their day to day livelihood needs.
But with the advance of climate change, farmers especially in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) face serious difficulty in farming.
He called on agricultural experts to come up with practical solutions to ensure that small scale farmers sustain their livelihood.
Bett added that climate smart technologies such as conservation agriculture offer a clear path to transform farming in the ASALs of Kenya.
“ASALs are the new frontier for agricultural development and all indications are that these are the areas that will contribute significantly to agricultural development and feed the nation in the future and therefore they deserve attention by empoweringg farmers to adopt appropriate farming technologies,” he warned.
He revealed that the government is seeking innovative and transformative approaches that will ensure that farming communities can make optimal use of their land and benefit economically without adversely affecting the environment.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Representative to Kenya Robert Allport said that conservation agriculture has been proven to increase yields while reducing the costs of production.
He said that small scale farmers in Kenya have reported yield increases of up to 60 percent and cost reduction up to 40 percent, making it imperative for more farmers to adopt this approach.
“With funding from the European Union and in partnership with World Food Program (WFP) and other partners, over 1,000 farmers have been trained and linked to markets,” Allport said.