By Jolene Njambi
The Ministry of Agriculture has embarked on a kitchen gardening project, delivering sacks, seeds and water tanks to at least a million Kenyan households in both rural and urban areas to cushion them from severe food shortages during the COVID-19 period.
The project dubbed The National Agriculture and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP) will be supported by The Small Scale Irrigation Value Addition Project (SIVAP) and The Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP), and is aimed at ensuring food for the underprivileged and resource-poor households by facilitating kitchen garden set ups on balconies, estates, home gardens and compounds.
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With the United Nations warning that COVID-19 pandemic will drive more than a quarter of a billion people globally to the brink of starvation, the resources available for food production, and particularly inputs, have become more scarce and more costly, and food prices have already begun rising. By May, pollster Geopoll found that over 86 per cent of 400 Kenyans surveyed were concerned about an impending food crisis since the pandemic first broke out.
With this in mind, the government is stepping in with the kitchen gardening project as a swift move to address the imminent food security challenges.
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Launched on June 25 , the CAS of Ministry of Agriculture, Madam Anne Nyaga in Kasikeu, Makueni County explained that the targeted households will be provided with a starter kit of 10gms of seeds of kales, spinach, black nightshade, amaranthus, and ¼ kg cowpeas seeds, a shade net for a multi-story garden and 50-litre water tank.
Additionally, other kitchen garden technologies that will be introduced are: multi-storey gardens, cone gardens, hanging gardens, micro gardens (buckets, tyres and other containers) moist bed gardens, staircase gardens, aquaphonics and food robe garden.
Each kit costs Sh1,350 translating to Sh1.35bn for the targeted one million households.
“With reduced incomes and loss of jobs in the informal sector, most households are not able to buy food. The inexpensive kitchen gardens are meant to cushion them and maintain healthy living during the pandemic,” said Ms. Nyaga speaking at the launch.
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Household recruitment will be done on county level by county administrators, with each county expected to recruit at least 6,000 to 20,000 households depending on the need, priority being given to poor households with large families, single parent households, widows and widowers.
For households with surplus production, solar dryers with the capacity to dry 10 kilograms of vegetables per hour will be supplied.
So far, The National Agriculture and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP) has supported over 19,750 beneficiaries across 21 counties, the Kenya Climate-Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP), 171,992 beneficiaries across 24 counties and the Small Scale Irrigation and Value Addition Project (SIVAP) 15,000 beneficiaries bringing to a total of 206,742 beneficiaries. SIVAP will further support 200,000 households across 21 counties.
Photo credit: Picture from kilimo.go.ke showing CAS Madame Anne Nyaga launching the project in Kasikeu, Makueni County.