How to Turn Kenya into an Agricultural Powerhouse
The most important needs of smallholder farmers at the top
of national policy formulation is the driver that will ignite Kenya into an
Using the example of India’s Green Revolution, the first step that the Kenyan Government needs to do is to prioritize smallholder farmers. In the case of India, the government prioritized farmers and made sure they were treated fairly. Any transaction between the farmer and traders has to be verified because in the value chain, the broker earns more than the producer. Although in the recent past heated debates have emerged whether the government should interfere with commodity prices or not, but the government should guarantee a minimum price for certain key commodities. There have been certain attempts to do so with maize and wheat but follow up is lacking and that is why such interventions have failed.
The second step is to provide farmers with information. Smallholder farmers are mostly illiterate and lack the know-how on the best practices for increased productivity. The government needs to scale up its extension services to reach every farmer. Financial planning and what crops to grow are key knowledge areas that the farmer needs.
The third step has to do with putting credit facilities in the hands of the farmer. In the case of India, the government gave incentives to banks for them to lend to the agricultural sector. Most banks in Kenya consider the sector too risky and shy away from giving farmers credit facilities. The conditions banks set scare away farmers and they would rather leave their farms idle than approach a bank for a loan.
These measures transformed India from a country unable to feed itself to a country feeding one billion people and US$10billion worth of food export this year.
Another example from India: The country is the world largest milk producer yet majority of the farmers don’t own more than a few cows. The secret is the 80% to 90% smallholder farmers.