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    By George Munene

    According to the Central Bank of Kenya’s (CBK), January 2023 Agriculture Sector Survey, 76 per cent of sampled farmers relied on rainfed agriculture which is mostly unreliable due to fluctuating weather patterns and argued that even with the distribution of government-subsidised fertiliser, there was little they could do without a sustainable water source.

    Farmers recommended the sinking of boreholes and erection of the pivot center irrigation method which they consider to be more effective in watering their farms. This would help supplement the ongoing government programs on the establishment of dams.

    Lack of alternative water sources predisposes farmers to climate shocks thus making them vulnerable to harsh weather conditions.

    The 2022 October to December short rains were 70 per cent less than the 30-year average across most of the country and according to USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network was the fifth consecutive below-average rainy season in the country.

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    Although farmers indicated that the last distribution of the subsidized government fertilizer was unequal, notable efforts to improve the distribution to more farmers were noted in the field with over 50 per cent of the sampled farmers having registered. 

    This could be enhanced through automation of the fertiliser distribution process alongside the adoption of a last-mile approach to devolving fertiliser to the wards (Village level).

    Most farmers recommended lowering of input and fuel prices, increasing subsidized fertilizer to improve agricultural production, and providing water for irrigation as key to improving agricultural production.

    According to sampled farmers the key factors affecting agricultural production in the country included high input costs (24 per cent) and weather patterns (15 per cent).

    Others included limited knowledge to manage farm inputs such as pesticides and herbicides as well as poor road networks to farms (12 per cent); Lack of funds for the purchase of farm inputs (9 per cent); long ques at National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to access fertiliser, cartels in the chain of production, lack of agricultural extension officers and a lack of market (6 per cent).

    The Ukraine/Russia war, Covid-19, and technology captured under others had the least impact. Technology played a less significant role probably on account of the low adoption of technology/ mechanization in farming.

    Some farmers indicated that they resort to the use of informal inputs such as charcoal dust to decrease acidity in soils. Respondents indicated that the uptake of farm inputs could be revamped through the improvement of the government’s agricultural input subsidy schemes such as the recent one on fertilizer.

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    The survey was the fourth of the agriculture sector and was conducted from January 10 - 13, 2023  to obtain indicative information on the recent trends in prices and the sector’s output of key agricultural commodities in various markets and farms across the country. 

    It drew respondents from wholesale, and retail markets, and farms in major towns across the country. These included: Nairobi, Nairobi Metropolitan area, Naivasha, Gilgil, Nakuru, Narok, Bomet, Nyandarua, Nyahururu, Kisumu, Mombasa, Kisii, Eldoret, Kitale, Meru, Mwea, Machakos, Isebania and Nyeri.

    It is aimed at generating high-frequency agriculture sector data that provides additional information to support monetary policy decisions.

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    By George Munene

    According to USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network, Kenya food prices remain at a record high after a fifth consecutive below-average rainy season has led to high levels of acute food insecurity

    While annual food inflation eased to 13.8 percent in December 2022, staple food prices in monitored markets remain unseasonably high, driven by four successive below-average production seasons, high fuel and transportation costs, high local demand, and reduced cross-border imports from Uganda and Tanzania. 

    Water sources are drying up in the pastoral areas of Kenya following the end of the fifth consecutive rainy season. National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) sentinel sites report livestock body conditions are largely poor to very poor, with livestock deaths due to the drought continuing to be reported. 

    In the marginal agricultural areas, crop failure is being reported across Kitui and Meru counties and in parts of Kilifi and Kwale following the below-average October to December short rains. 

    Across the marginal agricultural areas, the maize crop is unlikely to reach maturity following the cessation of rainfall in late December and inadequate soil moisture to support growth. 

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    A below-average harvest of green grams, cowpeas, and beans is also underway in most areas, with the early consumption of green produce, especially beans. 

    Overall, households remain atypical reliant on market food purchases due to a lack of stocks from the below-average March to May 2022 season. 

    The 2022 long rains maize harvest is almost complete in the North Rift, the higher altitude regions in Nakuru, and parts of the central region. 

    The short rains harvest is ongoing in Nyanza and parts of Western Kenya. 

    Across central and western Kenya, the current dry conditions benefit harvesting and drying activities and greatly reduce the possibility of post-harvest losses to moisture damage. 

    People travel three to 17 kilometers to access water, while livestock trek 10 to 33 kilometers due to limited water access. Livestock milk production, a key source of food and income, remains well below normal, with livestock producing zero to 0.9 liters per household per day. 

    Overall, the ongoing drought continues to severely hinder household access to food and income, resulting in widespread Crisis and Emergency outcomes.

    Households rely heavily on off-own farm activities such as selling charcoal, firewood, and petty trade to earn income. However, increased competition is limiting earnings as food prices remain above average. Household food access is impacted by below-normal purchasing power, driving widespread Stressed and Crisis outcomes.

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    In December, dry maize grain prices ranged from 35-140 per cent above the five-year average, with most monitored markets reporting prices around 70 to 100 per cent above the five-year average. 

    However, in Eldoret, maize prices were almost 140 per cent above the five-year average due to the National Cereals and Produce Board offering Sh4,500-5,300 per 90-kg bag. 

    Similarly, dry bean prices in December were around 50-85 per cent above the five-year average. 

    Overall, the high cost of food continues to limit household purchasing power and impact household food access.

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    medium 1 Galla Goats handing overTaita Taveta County farmers received 2,250 Galla goats distributed by FAO working with the County Government of Taita Taveta. The goal is to empower farmers and directly contribute to food and nutrition security through the production of milk. 

    510 farmers from 22 groups received the Galla goats. The farmers were aggregated into six clusters depending on their location and this is to help them utilize the He-goats that were not distributed to all farmers but will be shared amongst them for breeding purposes.

    Taita Taveta County is among the Arid and Semi-Arid Counties that are currently facing a prolonged drought that has reduced livestock feed availability.

    Among the projects that FAO is implementing in the county, the intervention aims to build the resilience of the local farmers to adapt to climate change by assisting farmers to select farming activities that can thrive in drought conditions.

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    “This is a unique intervention because it is the farmers themselves that chose the value chain through community action planning. We trained them on various value chains and gave them the option to select what they thought would serve them best.” FAO Field Programs Specialist Abedih Mbatha shares.

    Goats are best adapted to the ASALs; they are relatively easy to keep, easy to feed, and can survive drought and harsh conditions. The majority of the beneficiary farmers are graduates of Farmer Field School and were trained in livestock husbandry to ensure that they are able to take care of the goats for optimal production.

    The ceremony was presided over by Deputy Governor Christine Kilalo, and Dr.  Barrack Okoba; the team lead Resilient Food and Livelihood Systems at FAO. Also in attendance were senior government officials and local leaders.

    “I once participated in a chicken auction here some years back. I bought very nice chicken here and went on to become a poultry farmer. I want to come back next year and participate in a Galla goat auction from this stock we are giving today so that once again I become a goat farmer.” Said Dr. Barack Okoba.

    Dr. Okoba added that the goats given have a very high twinning rate and will take a very short time to dot the landscape in Mbololo. He urged the farmers to take good care of the goats. “These goats are now yours, they don’t belong to FAO or the County government, they are yours take good care of them and you will benefit.”

    “As a county, we have a plan to ensure this county is food sufficient through improved agriculture production. We shall thus work with partners like FAO towards achieving this and we need your support. Your support comes by way of ensuring such resources entrusted to you like these goats today are given good care to yield milk, meat, and money for you.” Said Deputy Governor Christine Kilalo.

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    Dr. Beatrice Otina the area Veterinary Officer has promised to help the farmers to keep the goats in good health through continuous disease surveillance. She said they would work with the Animal Health Assistants to ensure that all the goats are free of any external and internal parasites and diseases through continuous visits and sensitization of farmers. 

    This is one of the activities in Agricultural Climate Resilient Enhancement Initiative (ACREI) project. ACREI is funded by the Adaptation Fund and implemented by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) with a goal of building the capacity of vulnerable communities to adapt to climate change.

    For more information contact

    Dr. Joseph Othieno

    National Communication Specialist

    Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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