Farmers in East Africa region have been urged to embrace Climate resilient farming to increase food productivity and income.
SNV Netherlands Development Organisation is a not-for-profit international organisation that makes a lasting difference in the lives of people living in poverty by helping them raise incomes and access basic services. SNV is currently implementing the Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow (CRAFT) project designed to address climate change related challenges in the agricultural sector in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
The CRAFT project, funded by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs is implemented in partnership with WUR, CGIAR-CCAFS, Agriterra, and Rabobank. The overall project goal is to increase availability of climate smart food for the growing population. The outcome is to increase income for smallholder farmers and SMEs, increase business performance for agribusiness SMEs and cooperatives due to climate related investments and improve the enabling environment favorable for scale up.
Oscar Nzoka, a Climate Smart Innovations advisor at SNV says that Climate change is one of the contributing factors to low productivity in the agricultural sector. Increases in temperature, rainfall variation, and the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events are adding pressure to global agricultural systems. Kenya is no exception being particularly vulnerable, as it depends heavily on rain-fed agriculture. This a wakeup call to all farmers to adopt climate smart farming practices and technologies that build their resilience against climate shocks, reduce emissions of GHGs as well increase their productivity and income.
“If we are to tackle food security as a country, we must redesign our farming systems to ensure that farmers are equipped with the relevant knowledge on climate change. As an organisation we are working with government, development partners and potato value chain stakeholders in East Africa.”
Nzoka adds that “The project will leverage Euro 10 M through the Climate Investment and Innovation Fund as a co-investment with private sector to ensure increased investments and growth in climate smart value chains. The project offers a strong platform to not only manage and coordinate a robust climate smart agriculture project, but also provide targeted technical assistance, business facilitation, as well as research and knowledge support to farmers; ensuring inclusion of women and youth.”
He also reveals that potato crop which is one of the project’s target value chain is the second most consumed food crop after maize in Kenya and also one of the food crops targeted to boost food and nutrition security.
“Potatoes are a rich source of nutrition and energy because of their high content of vitamins, minerals and essential organic compounds and are both a staple food and a cash crop. Most farmers in Kenya are currently harvesting an average of 8 tonnes per hectare compared to Europe where the outputs are between 60 and 70 tonnes per hectare. This is due to poor agricultural practices that include mono cropping, poor land preparation and planting methods, over-recycling of seed potato, substandard seed potato, poor use of fertilizers and untimely pest and disease control and post-harvest losses.
SNV is currently supporting Sereni Fries Ltd under the Climate Investment and Innovation Fund to build capacity of approximately 2,500 small holder potato farmers to reliably supply quality ware potato all year round.
Nzoka adds that “Potato productivity can be increased by addressing the weaknesses within the value chain starting with the use of certified seeds which has the ability to increase yield to 16-20 tonnes per hectare.
SNV in partnership with various stakeholders have develop a training handbook and aid with a climate lens aimed focusing on strengthening the production systems of small holder farmers so as to ensure that farmers are trained on practices and technologies that are water smart, carbon smart, weather smart, nutrient and energy smart. This requires concerted efforts and joint investments by private and public partners, as well as support agencies effectively implement adaptation and mitigation strategies. “concludes Nzoka.