The national government through the ministry of agriculture has put in place strategies aimed at enhancing maize, rice and irish potatoes production in effort to ensure food security in the country as part of realizing “the big four agenda” by the year 2022.
Speaking during a sensitization meeting on the big four agenda which was held at Homelady guest house in Lugari sub county and brought together agriculture and administration officials mainly focusing on food security, the principal agriculture officer in charge of food and nutrition security unit in the ministry of agriculture and irrigation Mr. Meltus Were said currently the country was facing a deficit of 12 million bags of maize.
He said the maize production rate stood at 40 million bags nationally against the consumption demand of 52 million bags and there was need to increase production to ensure the country produce enough for its citizens and even surplus to sale and even export.
Mr. Were disclosed that the country targets to increase maize production to 67 million bags by the year 2022.
To achieve this target, Mr. Were said the ministry had put in place strategies which include making use of all idle land in various parts of the country for agricultural production.
“One of the ways to address this is through expansion of agricultural land especial the idle public land. We are targeting to increase the area under maize production by 12,300 acres so whereby the 10,000 acres could be coming out of Agriculture Development Cooperation (ADC) land while 2, 300 will come from the carole land,” said Were.
He added that they were also engaging medium and large scale farmers so that they can be able to increase their production by 5 – 10 bags per acre saying currently the average production is at 25 – 30 bags per acre and it is anticipated that if the production could be
increased to 35 or 40bags per acre could help in ensuring food security in the country.
In addition Mr. Were said the ministry was looking into possibilities of increasing production in the arid and semi arid reas.
“We are targeting the Galana Kulalu irrigation and we are also focusing on Holla and Bura irrigation schemes and other dry areas where we can produce reliably through irrigation,” said Mr. Were.
He said the ministry was also working on addressing the issue of post harvest loses which stands at 12% nationally “If this can be reduced we will have much of harvested grains being put on table as food.”
To limit the lose he said the government intends to make use of the mobile and NCPB driers which will offer services at a subsidized price.
He said they were also encouraging capacity building of the county staff on the need to have the knowledge on how to control the post harvest loses and even food utilization including the control of the fall army worms.
On his part Mr. Simon Muchigiri the fertilizer promotion officer state department of crops, said the government had procured enough fertilize to be sold to farmers at subsidize price of Ksh. 1,500 through the National Cereals and Produce Boards (NCPB).
He disclosed that Lugari had been allocated about 14,000 of Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) fertilizer adding that already 2,800 bags had been delivered in the sub county.
He said the ministry was working closely with the count governments to put a depot in every constituency to save farmers the cost of traveling long distance to get the subsidized farm inputs.
Muchigiri advised farmers to do soil sampling in order to know the appropriate fertilizer to be used on their farms for better harvest.
In her remarks Lugari sub county deputy county commissioner Agnes Karoki thanked the government for initiating the ‘big four agenda program’ which is aimed at bettering lives of Kenyans.
She instructed chiefs and their assistants to ensure all government programs succeeded right away from the grass root level.
“The chiefs and assistant chiefs you have a key role to play here, when you go back to your stations encourage our farmers in your regular barazas and other forums to improve on maize production because that is the key crop that has been emphasized on. In Lugari we have medium and lager scale farmers please encourage them to do farming in the right way so that we have increased food production,” said the DCC.
She advised those with big chunks of land to make proper use of them by planting maize to help the government attain it target of producing sufficient food for its citizens.
“We’ve got farmers who are not utilizing their land well, some of the land is never cultivated, lets encourage them to make use of all those private idle land for crop production,” she said.
Some of the participants appealed for legislation on crop zoning that will prevent the spread of sugarcane farming into areas perceived to be food crop zones.