The Star (Nairobi)

1 January 2014

Kenya: Farmers Urged to Stop Subdividing Shambas

Deputy President William Ruto has asked farmers to stop subdividing farms to small uneconomical plots as this undermines food security and increases poverty.

At the same time, Ruto called on the youth to embrace farming, saying the average age of the Kenyan farmer is 60 years, a situation he said is untenable and a threat to agricultural productivity and economic development.

Ruto said Kenyans need to start seriously thinking about moving to townships so as to free agricultural land for production if the country is to achieve its development agenda and cause an agrarian revolution.

Ruto was speaking at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute headquarters in Nairobi recently during a farmers congress which saw the re-branding of the Kenya National Federation of Agricultural Producers (KENFAP) to the Kenya National Farmers' Federation (KENAFF).

"We need to seriously start thinking about land consolidation as opposed to land fragmentation. When agricultural land is over subdivided it loses its value. We need to move people to townships so as to free land for agricultural production," said the deputy President who once served as Agriculture minister in the last government.

He said the Kenyan farmer is growing old and there is need to encourage the youth to venture into agriculture to boost production and to ensure continuity. He added that it is also important to mechanise agriculture and use modern technology to improve production.

Agriculture cabinet secretary, Felix Kosgey, said the issue of farmers receiving seeds and fertiliser late will be a thing of the past. "The government has ensured that there is enough seeds and fertiliser in readiness for the next planting season and that the country has enough food to feed the people," Kosgey said.

He said they have adopted an open door policy with farmers and that any farmer or any of their leaders is free to visit him at the office and the issues raised will be addressed immediately. He said farmers input in any crucial matter touching on agriculture will always be sought before adoption.

The chairman of KENAFF Nduati Kariuki said the organisation has embarked on major developments to ensure it remains the farmers' voice including the building of a modern facility that will also be its headquarters.

"Farmers in Kenya need a strong organisation that will be able to lobby for their issues and to ensure that farmers' plight is well addressed. The organisation has grown by leaps and bound and today it represents the interests of more than two million households," Kariuki added.

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