Diversify crops to improve food security, western region told

Counties urged to pump more funds into agriculture.

In Summary

•The western and Nyanza regions have for long depended on sugar cane as a major cash crop.

•Farmers also urged to form welfare cooperations to support diversification in the region.

Some sugarcane farmers in Ndhiwa constituency, Homa Bay county on June 7, 2022/
Some sugarcane farmers in Ndhiwa constituency, Homa Bay county on June 7, 2022/

Farmers in the western region and Nyanza should invest more in other crops to improve food security, senior ICT consultant Benard Mbeya has said.

He echoes Narok  Senator Ledama's sentiments on sugar farming which is a major cash crop in the region, where the legislator has critised the sectors' management which has heavily been politisised.

Ledama has termed sugarcane as a "poor lazy man's crop" as it has failed to fully benefit farmers, with a lack of proper research preventing the country from utilising all the products from the plant.

Mbeya urged Nyanza and Western region leaders to change their agricultural mindset based on global climate change.

Mbeya argues that cartels in the sugar industry cannot be controlled.

"Let our farmers invest in other food crops like maize and yellow beans which are fetching more than sugar at the moment," he said.

For instance, "Mokwa maize ", a product of Homabay County is doing well in the market but the variety is not available for continuity.

He has urged the regions' leaders led by Anyang Nyongo (governor Kisumu),  Gladys Wanga (Homabay) and James Orengo (Siaya), among others, to allocate emergency agricultural funds during this supplementary budget.

This is to support agricultural research and farming activities.

Mbeya has also recommended the introduction of public-private partnerships to promote agricultural farming activities in the regions.

He has also urged for the introduction of fish pond farming through homestead initiatives, to boost food security.

"The rate at which fish stocks are dying in cages is alarming. County governments should put in place rules and regulations controlling local and international investors from putting fish cages," he said.

The famous Ahero rice should also be improved, he said.

The Jaramogi Science and Technology University remains a key institution that can be utilised for research and crop development, the ICT guru noted.

"Farmers should also form welfare cooperations to support diversification in the region," Mbeya said.

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