Monday, July 15, 2024

Siaya County Government bets big  on long rains to turnaround agricultural sector fortunes

Gem, Siaya County, March 1, 2024 ………… Siaya County Government has launched a comprehensive long rains campaign to bolster community preparedness and knowledge, expand the utilisation of vast idle arable land and create more jobs for youth.

Tens of extension motorbikes, cars, tractors, seeds, fertilizers and 100 extension officers were flagged-off  on the sidelines of a two-day annual Agri-Expo to prepare the county for the upcoming long rains.

Siaya County Governor,  James Orengo, said  his Government will be providing farmers with subsidized fertilizers , tractor hire services and certified seeds under this  initiative geared towards making the county more food secure and enhancing the contribution of agriculture to the County’s GDP growth.

“The County through the Department of Agriculture, Food Security, Livestock and Blue Economy is committed to strengthen the contribution of the Sector to the County’s GDP and overall growth of the economy as envisaged in the County Government’s ‘Nyalore’ Manifesto and Government’s highest priorities, including Vision 2030’s stated ambition to become a successful and inclusive country,” said Orengo.

Currently, a large proportion of arable land in the County remains underutilized with low productivity in main staple crops, for instance , the average yield of maize in the County is about 6 bags per acre against the optimum 30 bags per acre from best practices locally. 

“This low productivity is largely attributed to poor soil health , dependency on rain , low technology adoption and weak extension services among other issues,” said Orengo. 

The Meteorological department recently issued a heavy rains alert citing more than a 70 per cent chance of the country experiencing above-normal rains in the March-May long rains season.

Areas such as Siaya and regions bordering Lake Victoria have been listed among those expected to experience higher rainfall.

Already the County Government is prioritizing the revival of Cotton ginning in Madiany, West Uyoma Ward, with the aim of supporting farmers to increase their incomes. Approximately KES. 15 million has been set aside to purchase a cotton ginning machine, seed cotton pre – cleaner, platform weighing scale, auto trolley, automatic cotton oil filter and a seed cotton humidifier.

H.E. the Rt Hon. Raila Odinga expressed his delight at witnessing the potential of farming cotton, rice processing, fishing, and many other agricultural activities in Siaya County. He mentioned that these were things he had never seen before and believes they have the potential to spur agricultural success in the region.

“Siaya County should be praised for its proactive measures towards empowering the youth through the long rains initiative. With an inclusive collaborative effort, this initiative can go a long way towards unlocking the potential of the youth, their tech know-how and innovations, which can help boost food security,” said Odinga.

Siaya County Agriculture, food security, livestock and fisheries Chief Officer, Elizabeth Adongo confirmed confirmed to farmers during an event held at BarKalare Primary School in East Gem ward that they will be able to benefit from subsidized tractor hire services. This will cost as low as KES. 2,500, enabling farmers to plough on time and at an affordable cost. Additionally, farmers will receive hybrid seeds (cotton complemented by sunflower) worth KES. 3 million, which will also be subsidized.

The 2024 Long Rain Season Campaign, Adongo said serves as a platform to launch an intensive campaign in collaboration with the County youth and other stakeholders aimed at enhancing productivity, income, and livelihood generation through strengthening agricultural extension services.

” To empower youth in the community, a youth-focused and driven initiative called ‘Platform Connect’ will focus on capacity building in agribusiness and entrepreneurship, with particular emphasis on both youth and women in the community,” said Adongo.

Kenya is facing a significant challenge due to a high percentage of unemployed young people, especially in rural areas of Siaya County.

According to the World Bank Collection of Development Indicators, approximately 75% of Kenya’s population falls between 18 to 35 years old, and women make up 50.31% of the entire population.

 Adongo said the  new initiative  bringing together various stakeholders such as Farmers and Farmers’ Organizations, Agricultural input companies, agricultural retailers, Agricultural credit institutions, crop consultants and advisors, County and external extension workers, local communities, agri-business entrepreneurs, multilateral partners, and County officials will help tackle this challenge.

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