To encourage more youth to join agriculture, there is need to embrace mechanisation.
Chief Engineerat the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries Laban Kiplagat says mechanisation in agrcicuture in Kenya stands at 30 per cent. He said the use of machines is one of the key value input the Ministry should be part and parcel of the conversation when it comes to improving agricultural performance.
“We have realised with mechanisation we can improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of agriculture in terms of timeliness, quality of agricultural products by value addition and land preservations,” he said.
Eng Kiplagat was speaking at an event organised by Italian Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers Federation (FEDERUNACOMA) in collaboration with Italian Trade Agency (ICE) ahead of the upcoming 45th edition of EIMA 2022 fair in Kenya. The EIMA International scheduled to take place in Italy from November 9-13, is one of the leading trade fairs for machinery for agriculture.
Already, over 2,000 exhibiting companies and more than 300,000 trade visitors have confirmed their participation. The fair will focus on information, gardening and landscaping technologies, bioenergy supply chains and irrigation systems.
‘‘At the fair, Kenyan businesspeople and buyers will find the most suitable mechanical equipment for crops such as maize, wheat, potatoes and sugar cane. They will see live machineries and talk to manufacturers to learn more about the technical specifications of these machineries; how they can work and be adapted for the local needs for different crops,” says Fabio Ricci, Deputy Director General, FederUnacoma.
Italy is the sixth supplier of machinery to Kenya after India, China, Brazil, Israel, and Turkey.
“We need to market more our products in Kenya and Africa at large. We still believe that Italy is the right partner for African countries because our machinery is focused on small and medium mechanisation that fits small scale farmers.”
Riccardo Zucconi, Director of ICE in Addis Ababa (responsible for Kenya), explains that acquisition of mechanical technologies is crucial in improving land productivity and making better use of the few available water resources.
Eng Kiplagat is optimistic that inadequate mechanisation facing the country will be solved by the Mechanisation policy.
Some of the challenges facing small scale farmers include costly machines, land fragmentation, access to adequate credit/loans, governance and poor quality machines coming into the country.
He says Mechanisation Policy is now in its final stages of completion and will make ensure use of machines is given prominence and also regulated.
“Among the issues the policy tries to address is quality. For some time, this country has been dumping ground for inferior and low quality machines which cannot deliver the way they should. The policy will ensure there’s value for money for the farmers from machines brought in the country,” he says.
He adds since smallholder farmers find it hard accessing credits from some banks, the policy will ensure there are measures that makes it easy for farmers to access credits and loans.
The policy also promotes local fabricators so that they manufacture quality machines and other spare parts.
He explains the policy will ensure there’s research and development on agricultural machinery that so that we have machines that fit within our environment, soil and terrain.
He says the policy will move mechanisation to more than 60 per cent in the country.
Giacomo Montemarani First Secretary Commercial of Embassy of Italy in Nairobi says most of Kenya’s territory consists of arid and semi-arid soils and only 20 per cent of the land presents good conditions for agricultural production.
Kenya is also facing the negative effects of global warming, that has led to prolonged periods of drought. Despite these, the growing population requires more food.