The government will facilitate the adoption of new technologies and innovations to transform low agricultural productivity in the country, aimed at enhancing farmer’s food production capabilities to feed the increasing population.
On Tuesday, during the opening of the African Conference on Agricultural Technologies (ACAT) in Nairobi, Agriculture, and Livestock Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi said Agriculture offers one of the quickest payback periods for investments as it has great potential to generate higher incomes for our people and create employment opportunities as he read a speech on behalf of President William Ruto. The president noted that to unlock this potential, there will also be a need to eliminate the barriers to technology development and transfer.
He added that the current low productivity characterizing Kenya’s agricultural sector and that of our continent can only be transformed through the adoption of new technologies and innovations.
Consequently, in pursuit of agricultural transformation, the president said the government is implementing a comprehensive blueprint, the Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS 2019-2029).
“This blueprint represents our unwavering commitment to reforming the sector by increasing output and productivity, boosting incomes, and most importantly ensuring the resilience and food security of Kenyan households,” he said.
President Ruto further acknowledged the effective application of science, technology, and innovations in agriculture as a powerful tool that can achieve two goals of improving productivity across value chains, while at the same time building resilience to the effects of climate change. “There are remarkable innovations that can help farmers address the challenges of drought and pests through drought-tolerant and pest-resistant crops,” he added.
Additionally, the Kenyan government is committed to creating and enabling an environment to advance the utilization of science, technology, and innovation to address agricultural challenges and ensure food and nutrition security.
This ensures that researchers, scientists, and farmers can develop and utilize advancements in agriculture for improved livelihoods.
The Former President, of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who graced the event said innovation is the bedrock of all evolutionary transformative change. Therefore Africa must rapidly evolve by embracing innovation to foster resilience in its agricultural endeavors. He reiterated that innovation in agriculture is not optional but is necessary saying the world’s population is growing and with it comes the demand for food.
Climate change is another threat to the continent’s traditional agricultural practices and therefore there is a need for innovations that will ensure continuous production of what we like in good volumes by making production systems more efficient, sustainable, and climate-smart.
The former President said innovative technologies can bridge the current production gap and help the continent to fast-track the attainment of Self-sufficiency in food production.
“Innovation must be part of our resolute course to reshaping our agricultural outlook that should help our farmers to ably adopt new approaches to effectively withstand or overcome the myriad of challenges that currently bedevil the sector,” added Jonathan.
He continued “It is by being creative and innovative that we as a people and the continent at large can bestow on ourselves a well-secure food, nutrition, and economic prosperity. Let us reflect on what this means,” he said.
Jonathan said the 5-day ACAT conference serves as a launching pad for new ideas, collaborations, good discourse, and partnerships that will propel Africa to the forefront of agricultural innovations and resilience, adding, “Together we can create a brighter and more food and nutrition secure future for the generations to come.”
African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) Executive Director Dr. Canisius Kanangire acknowledged Kenya’s dedication to an admirable goal–the eradication of poverty and hunger from the face of our planet by 2030, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“We recognize that this aspiration can only be fulfilled by incorporating science, technology, and innovation into our national development plans and investment decisions,” Dr. Kanangire said.
The Foundation, whose headquarters is in Kenya has facilitated access to innovative agricultural technologies worth over USD650 million during its 20 years of operation, benefiting 4.8 million smallholder farmers in 24 countries including Kenya.
This week’s conference running under the theme, Agricultural Resilience through Innovation, takes place at a time when most countries in Africa are grappling with the challenge of feeding a growing population, estimated to grow well over 1.4 billion by 2030.