The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization will host the first ever digital farmers’ conference from 29th to 31st May 2018 in a bid to harness the benefits of technology and drive the adoption of these tools by farmers.
The event will take place at KALRO headquarters, Kaptagat Road, Loresho, Nairobi County and will start at 10:00 am and is expected to be graced by the Cabinet Secretary in charge of agriculture Hon. Mwangi Kiunjuri.
Farmers will be able to learn about various technologies such as KALRO’S online farmer platforms for chicken, dryland crop and pasture seed farmers that will provide farmers with timely, high-level research and agro-weather data for specific value chains, advising farmers on the best agronomics practices for their geographical areas.
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This comes at a time when real gross value added in the agricultural sector grew at a decelerated rate of 1.6 per cent from Sh879.6bn in 2016 to Sh893.3bn in 2017. This was occasioned by drought, pests and disease incidence which resulted in reduced crop and livestock production.
In this, maize production declined from 37.8m bags in 2016 to 35.4m bags in 2017. Tea and coffee production decreased by seven per cent and 11.5 per cent to 439.8 thousand tonnes and 40.8 thousand tonnes, respectively in 2017.
A reduction in cane production resulted in sugarcane deliveries to factories reducing drastically from 7.2m tonnes in 2016 to 4.8m tonnes in 2017.
The volume of marketed milk decreased by 17.4 per cent from 648.2 million litres in 2016 to 535.7 million litres in 2017
The volume of horticultural exports however, increased by 16.4 per cent from 261.2 thousand tonnes in 2016 to 304.1 thousand tonnes in 2017.
Information Communication and Technology in agriculture is expected to play a vital role in the enhancement of production by smallholder farmers who form 80 per cent of the total population.
Kenya has an internet penetration rate of 83 per cent, the highest in Africa according to online e-commerce company Jumia.
This means that even farmers in the rural areas have access to the internet and can thus use it to improve productivity and enhance their income.