The government will adopt contract farming for sorghum and other cereals within the next year in efforts to boost output.
State Department for Irrigation Principal Secretary Fred Segor said the move will assure farmers pricing of their harvests.
He announced the plan during the launch of Kenya Breweries' white paper on sorghum production in Kenya yesterday.
If adopted, contract farming will guarantee farmers of a ready market with predetermined conditions for production and marketing.
However, according to agricultural economist from Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and development Joseph Opiyo, the government should be clear on whether the model will target all farmers or it will be only for strategic grain reserves. The grain reserves are meant to reduce the pressure from consumers and for security purpose in an event that the produce in the market is not enough.
“ Its should be clear that this move is aimed at reducing the pressure of expectation from farmers who expect that their cereals will be bought double the market price,” Opiyo said.
Currently, KBL has engaged atleast 45,000 farmers to help meet their demand for 60,000 tons of sorghum annually. At least 240,000 small scale farmers in lower eastern and western regions of Kenya are engaged in Sorghum farming with farms ranging from one to 1.5 acres.
Besides, irrigation Ps said that the ministry has kicked off the process of gathering data from farmers to help in decision making and accurately predicting and determine the future of food security. Once collected, the data should be able to reveal soil fertility levels, establish type of commercial fertilisers to use in different places, and types of seed varieties.
“We have started registering farmers and It is our expectation that we will be done within the next one year,” Segor said.
The data will help predict short-term weather conditions and its effects, said head of statistics in the Ministry of Agriculture Tom Ndienya. The data will ensure the right quantity and mix of products is sourced in anticipation of weather changes, reducing ambiguity on weather patterns.