NYANDARUA, KENYA: Small-scale farmers in Nyandarua County will soon begin to use mini-tractors to produce food and other commercial crops following an agreement entered last week between the county government and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
For many decades farmers in the county- just like many others across Kenya- have used the folk jembe, the hoe and the panga to grow both food and commercial crops- something that has adversely affected production in the country.
But following the agreement entered between Nyandarua Governor Daniel Waithaka Mwangi and Vice Chancellor of JKUAT Prof. Mabel Imbuga, the farmers now stand to benefit from the latest farming technology developed by the University.
Besides the use of mini-tractors- dubbed Shujaa tractors- the University will establish a campus in Nyandarua to enable farmers learn first-hand the latest technology in agriculture by interacting directly with students and university professors.
The mini-tractors have been developed in India but the university is currently collaborating with corporate groups in Nairobi to change part of the technology to suit local needs before ordering for mass production.
Under a joint Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on August 12, the two sides agreed to collaborate in setting up dairy plants and mechanization of agriculture.
Speaking during the ceremony, the Governor said the use of ancient technology in farming posed one of the greatest challenges to farmers and was the reason behind poor harvests and poverty.
"Our farmers need to embrace modern methods of farming and discard the use of pangas and folk jembes in food production," the Governor said.
He said the proposal by JKUAT to design modern tractors for use by farmers will enable youths take interest in farming and boost yields.
Prof. Imbuga said the era when university professors were associated with life in ivory tower was long gone and that dons should be directly involved in applying skills imparted to their students even at the farm level.
"We want our students and the professors to learn from the fields as they interact with Wanjiku. That way, education will become more meaningful and university graduates will find it easier to accept soiling their hands in order to make wealth," she said.