Give farmers biological farm inputs, lobby urges government

Members of the Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) network who work with small-scale farmers in East, Central and Southern Africa address the press in Meru town. Phares Mutembei, Standard]

A farmers' lobby group wants the national and county governments to help farmers “urgently” transition to biological farm inputs for increased production.

The Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) network members meeting in Meru County said farm inputs being important in food production, it was high time the Government considered organic fertilisers.

Led by Chairperson Janet Mumo, the farmers groups from across the region said biological farm inputs can be an alternative method of soil fertility management.

This will also offer more benefits to farm health and nutritional value of agricultural products than chemical fertilisers and hence reduce dependency on imported synthetic fertilisers.

“Farmers should be encouraged to adopt other options to reduce exposure to ever-changing global market scenarios regarding imported farm inputs,” said Ms Mumo.

She said that PLUM works with small-scale farmers in East, Central and Southern Africa and was willing to provide a platform for learning and experience sharing of the various biological farm inputs.

Mumo said the productivity for all key crops- cereals, vegetables and pulses was lower than their potential, hence the need to adopt biological inputs and other interventions to reverse the trend for Kenyan farmers.

“The low productivity has been attributed to poor soil health, poor agricultural practices, deteriorating ecological status of environment and climate change,” she said.

She added: “We call for an urgent and comprehensive shift to agroecology across the entire food system with particular emphasis on the integration of agroecology in the policies, strategies and action plans”.

The network, which comprises 61 organisations working with small-scale farmers, said that the agri-food sector is a key pillar of Kenya’s economy, accounting for 22.4 per cent of the overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Mumo said the national and county governments should increase their agricultural budgets to 10 per cent of their total budgets, as per the Maputo Declaration, with at least five per cent dedicated to agroecological practices, including research and extension.

The network called for a total ban on agrochemicals, which include synthetic fertilisers, saying the copious use of expensive agrochemicals had impoverished farmers.

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