"If agriculture goes wrong, nothing else will have a chance to go right in the country.‘’ - Thomas Jefferson
Growing up, I always enjoyed visiting my aunt Shiko’s farm. I would enjoy helping take care of the animals and engage in some farm work. It made me happy how cows mooed quietly in one corner and in the other corner came the squeals and snorts of fat pigs. Chicks and ducks sat amongst the water's surface and sheep grazed eagerly in the meadows. My favorite was the shamba. Shiko’s farm was massive spreading across four acres and I loved it how aunt Shiko could work on it passionately regardless of whether it was sunny or rainy.
My eyes proudly kept a survey on aunt Shiko’s farm, and I just loved how different varieties of crops were arranged in clear rows. Vines clambered up wooden poles, carrots pushed their way out of the earth and fat pumpkins sunk into the ground and I knew it takes a lot to have such a productive land.
With all the nostalgic memories about my aunt’s farm, I have always lived to cherish agriculture and all that farmers do to ensure we have something to put in the stomach each day. Farmers, whether largescale, small scale or subsistence farmers work as hard to ensure families, communities and countries are food secure and it hurts to see their hard work being unfairly rewarded whenever there is no market for their produce, animals destroying crops, floods, and droughts among other calamities befalling the food production industry.
Today, Agriculture is known to be key to Kenya’s economy and it is the engine of economic growth in Kenya. About 75% of Kenyans earn all or part of their income from Agriculture.
Despite efforts made by farmers to ensure we have food as a country, it is sad how the Agriculture sector has been facing major challenges that have discouraged farmers for a long time. Droughts, famine, lack of markets and proper storage facilities for produce are just but few challenges that the sector must struggle with.
Pests and disease management have also posed a huge challenge to food producers amidst other challenges such as not being able to acquire proper training from certified agricultural extension officers on good agricultural practices.
Frustrations from market cartels have made it hard for farmers to remain in the agriculture business and despite their hard work, they too strive hard to put food on their tables.
The worst has been when farmers can’t see the fruits of their labor yet some people who didn’t take part in the production course take all money home leaving our farmers in poverty. The 2018 NCPB maize scandal is a major one revealing how farmers must go through a lot because of corrupt deals. In the scandal, an audit unearthed 200 ghost farmers where it emerged that brokers edged out maize farmers and were paid up to Ksh.1.9billion by the cereals Board.
At the time the government also announced that genuine maize farmers were owed over Ksh.1.5 billion and were supposed to receive their payment in October of the same year.
Frustrations from market cartels have made it hard for farmers to remain in the agriculture business and despite their hard work, they too strive hard to put food on their tables. This too affects the consumer whereby people must spend a lot of their money on food.
Food security and nutrition are one of the pillars of the Big4 agenda initiated by President Uhuru Kenyatta. The pillar seeks to ensure that all people, always, have physical, social and economic access to enough, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. With the Building Bridges Initiative, food security will be assured as it focuses on developing a 50-year economic plan that meets the needs of the current and future generations and agriculture remains part of this plan. The BBI seeks to ensure quality food production at the farm levels through coming in to ensure farmers get access to Agricultural Extension officers and field inspectors to inspect plants and train farmers on good agricultural practices and investing in research and technology to enhance proper food production chain. Through strengthening the capacity of the controller of Budget to be able to detect and respond promptly to misappropriation, wastage and illegal processes, all corrupt deals in the agricultural sector will be handled.