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Invest in agricultural technology to save the North

By Lucia Epur Lebasha (2015)

Drylands are a major call in most parts of the continent. Closer to home, Kenya; I am referring to the north .The larger part of the great rift, mostly occupied by the pastoral communities, mainly the Nilotic and Cushite groups. These are regions affected by droughts and receive the lowest amount of rain compared to other parts of the country. This is largely affecting livelihood in many ways. For this case, I am focusing on agriculture.

In every region of the world it is necessary to find or develop appropriate techniques for agriculture. A large part of the surface of the world is arid, characterized as too dry for conventional rain-fed agriculture. Yet, millions of people live in such regions. If current trends in population growth continue, there will soon be millions more. This is what is happening in Northern Kenya; an arid area, poor/no agricultural practices, yet high population.

These people must eat, and the wisest course for them is to produce their own food. Yet, the techniques are so varied that only a large volume would cover the entire subject. In many cases the most suitable techniques for a particular region maybe those already developed by the local inhabitants. In some cases it will be difficult to improve on local techniques, but at times even simple and inexpensive innovations may be almost revolutionary. This is to say that one must begin to improve local agriculture in arid zones by learning what is already there.

Human populations continue to increase at high rates in dry land areas and this is a natural driver of demand for locally-grown and available foods such as sorghum and millets. Effective translation of the increasing demand for dry land grains into significant benefits for the poor will require significant efforts that target at helping people in these regions. The whole ‘value chain’, from input supplies through production to output markets, will need to be built, involving multiple actors such as input suppliers, producers, storage agencies (such as the Kenya Cereals and Produce Board), processors and marketing entities.

Numerous development efforts have highlighted the importance of addressing inter-dependencies within the value chain. For example, while many soil fertility, water, weed and pest management techniques have been developed for dryland cereal production systems, their adoption is limited without other segments of the value chain such as input supply channels and output markets.

The other thing to do is to carry the fault. Early ago, in some centuries if I may say, in these areas, there was practice of Agriculture. Where are our traditional crops? The likes of: Sorghums, the “Katumani “type of maize, barley, millet, oats, cassavas and also wheat? Where did these crops go? When are we doing to bring them back? What happened? Have we ever had interest of thinking about them? Why can’t we rethink of this? There is always a way out.

Once enabled, farmers must also be motivated to utilize the inputs to achieve benefits.

Reliable and remunerative markets create a profit incentive, a driver for change. By raising the technical efficiency of the dry land crops such as sorghum and millet farming and accessing more rewarding markets in ways that control risks. These kinds of projects will create motivating conditions that trigger the adoption of productivity-enhancing technologies and substantial increases in crop production and income .This will be of great help to the individuals and community.

This is among the best ways the north can be helped; Investment in dry land Agricultural techniques and through this, we will finally have a way out of hunger.


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