Thursday, December 29, 2011

The use of mobile to access solutions to agricultural problems

A farmers' info hub
Just like there are many formulas of making a rat past tense, there are many ways mobile phones can be used for the benefit of farmers. One of such ways and which am going to focus on is provision of Farmer helpline services. This provides an opportunity for farmers to get quick and accurate answers to agricultural queries much faster and economically than information centers.

Using their mobile phone, farmers can call a helpline staffed by agricultural experts to ask about problems they are facing, such as the appearance of new pests, emergence of new diseases or the use of chemicals. They could also send photos via their mobile to get more specific advice, particularly on identification and treatment of pests and disease. Experts answer their queries immediately if possible, or call back when they have found an answer.

Potential barriers and recommendations:
Obtaining locally relevant agricultural information as per the demand: To address this, partnerships are needed between helplines and agents including agricultural extension workers with local knowledge to facilitate expeditious provision of solutions.
Managing operating costs of staffing helplines with agricultural experts: There is need for governments, NGOs and private enterprises such as agricultural input distributors and call centres need to work together to find the most cost-effective solutions.
Providing required communications infrastructure: Partnerships between mobile service providers and call centres are needed to provide the infrastructure.

This kind of service can also help experts and researchers by using information on the issues raised to improve their understanding of agricultural trends and the challenges facing farmers.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Doing GMOs or not shouldn't be the big question; let's look at the pros and cons

Plants are genetically engineered to enhance certain characteristics.
“State under fire for allowing import of GMOs” read one of the headlines in the local dailies sometime back. Whatever that meant, I strongly believe the state shouldn’t have been put under fire for importing genetically modified foods to feed its starving people. If I was to choose between feeding on GM food and starving to death my choice would be certainly the former.
And not that there is nothing good with GM foods as they are being portrayed; most antagonists of GM foods are social scientists who dwell their arguments on no scientific proof but hearsay. The fact which is not being said here is that science and technology can be used for the benefit of the human race and in this context - Biotechnology.
Biotechnology is a suit of tools that allow plant breeders to introduce a greater array of novelty into their plant varieties, and select which work, much faster than they could using conventional plant breeding techniques. There is therefore nothing inherently evil or Frankenstein-like about genetically modified plants.
Dismissing GM foods just like that will be unthoughtful of us. What people should demand for is the enforcement of the bioethics act to the latter and the right to be informed. All GM foods should be labeled with all the ingredients for people to make informed choices and avoid consumption of materials they are allergic to unknowingly.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Kyuso Maarifa Centre: Non-chemical Pest Management

Kyuso Maarifa Centre: Non-chemical Pest Management: The song is composed by Kimbithi Kya muthanga farmers field school meaning secret in the soil. This is was one of the group that benefited...

Science for pest management

Push-pull plot during 2nd season, maize and desmodium with Striga border crop. The plot is bordered with Napier grass. © icipe
Push–pull is a technology that uses intercropping to repel insect pests from crops. The push-pull strategy intercrops cereals with a repellant plant bordered by an attractive trap plant.
This technology is now being adopted and disseminated far and wide and since its development in 1997 an approximately 100,000 farmers have benefited from it. Young scientists should therefore strive to give agriculture a new lease by investing in such problem solving researches.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How to ensure food security sustainably

The past 50 years has experienced an upward trend in food production; but in most cases these achievements have come at the expense of degraded land and water systems. Now, a FAO report states that land and water scarcity and degradation are a growing threat to global food security. Extensive degradation and increased scarcity of natural resources have placed global food production systems at risk, posing a growing challenge to the task of feeding the world population projected to reach 9 billion by 2050 as per the new FAO report.
As we seek solutions to the food crisis and try to involve the youth resolving the impending crisis which has been exacerbated by economic challenges, there is need for sustainable intensification, improving efficiency of water use; innovative farming practices, increasing investment in agricultural development and modernization of national policies and institutions and embracing environmental conservation amidst farming.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Value Addition in Agri-Business Value Chain

The small holders, mostly poor in rural areas, have been dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods. It has been observed that due to overexploitation of natural resources available and accessible to them, the primary production activities (agriculture and animal husbandry) carried out by them are under increasing threats of sustainability. This notwithstanding, farmers continue getting poor rewards for their hard work on the farm due to the crude form in which they sell their products. A simple step of value addition can make a big difference financially. Such was the theme of this conference that was held in Uganda;

The following are some of the benefits of value addition;
• Increased farm level incomes.
• Diversity of incomes.
• Reduced risks from external factors and stabilized farm output prices.
• Improved productivity of inputs and reduction in cost of production.
• Improved capacities to organize and manage complex operations for agricultural production.
• Socially acceptable and better quality of life will be achieved.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Water is an astonishingly complex and subtle force in an economy. It is the single constraint on the expansion of every city, and even farmers have cited it as the only natural limit to their economic growth.

Feeding our world takes up to 90% of our freshwater withdrawals but many people in developing nations still don't have access to enough water for irrigation. When a water project is built in a community, members can often use the new water source to grow small gardens near their homes and secure their own food supply. Self-sufficient households are less affected by external conflict, famine or inadequate government services.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

This is a non-commercial attempt to highlight the fact that world leaders, irresponsible corporates and mindless 'consumers' are combining to destroy life on earth. It is dedicated to all who died fighting for the planet and those whose lives are on the line today. The cut was put together by Vivek Chauhan, a young film maker, together with naturalists working with the Sanctuary Asia network (

Content credit: The principal source for the footage was Yann Arthus-Bertrand's incredible film HOME The music was by Armand Amar. Thank you too Greenpeace and

Friday, December 16, 2011

Preventing hunger; root causes

In 2007 and 2008, when global food and fuel prices skyrocketed and sparked food riots in 35 countries, more than 115 million people were added to the ranks of the hungry. Food prices are again surging on global markets. The World Bank estimates that as a result of these price rises, another 44 million people were pushed into extreme poverty between June 2010 and February 2011. It is those who are extremely poor and vulnerable who suffer the most — women and girls often have disproportionately less food during economic shocks. Families are forced to sacrifice tomorrow for today — eating income-producing livestock, putting schoolchildren to work and switching from more expensive, nutritious food to cheaper staples.
Climatic changes have increased both the frequency and the intensity of natural disasters. Floods and droughts that were once occasional have now become epic and more regular. The 2011 drought in the Horn of Africa was declared the worst in 60 years. The 2010 monsoon floods in Pakistan were the worst in the country's recorded history.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Agribusiness has the greatest potential of having the greatest impact in poverty eradication.

Financial security and employment opportunities are all the youth need in order to get involved in agriculture. As children we’ve always nursed dreams of becoming bankers due to translating their dealing with money to mean having plenty of it and associating farming to lack of it. To change this perception, there is need for appropriate policies to be put in place. Policies that will make land accessible to the youths, policies that will support implementation of an infrastructure that supports production and the development of financial loans directed at the youth in agriculture and support agribusiness.
Agribusiness holds the greatest potential of emancipating the greatest number of youth from the yolks of poverty and unemployment among the emerging markets. About 70% of the world’s poor live in rural areas where agriculture is the major economic activity and therefore it should be prioritized due to its potential for broad development impact especially in poverty reduction.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Scaling up innovations to fight hunger - SciDev.Net

Scaling up innovations to fight hunger - SciDev.Net

Creativity at its best; tackling the burden of water scarcity

Show me one single sector which doesn't depend on water and I'll show you a liar. Every sector is in one way or another depending on water for its operations and agriculture is not exempted. This video is therefore very useful as it shows how people are tackling the burden of ferrying water - just the kind of creativity we require in agriculturefor the smallholder farmers.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Harvest Insurance; this would win farmers confidence and attract youth by change of attititude.

Impact of climate change
The uncertainties faced by local farmers on their agricultural productivity and consequently profitability only acts to discourage them and scare the farmers to be.
This is caused by the unpredictable attacks by pests and diseases, environmental fluctuations and the ever changing global market all of which are beyond the common farmers’ control.
To win back the farmers’ confidence and attract more youth to the sector, there is need to caution them against losses emanating from these unpredictable, unfortunate phenomena.

Animal deaths from drought
In W. Africa, The West Africa Development Bank (EADB) (fr)  is already working on a feasibility study to set up a harvest insurance system for the West African Economic & Monetary Union (UEMOA) region. The insurance would enable subscribers to receive financial compensation for harvest losses caused by climate changes see report here (fr)
In Kenya one such service is "Kilimo Salama," which in Kiswahili means "safe farming," is a partnership between the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, UAP Insurance, and telecoms operator Safaricom. The project offers farmers who plant on as little as one acre insurance policies to shield them from significant financial losses when drought or excess rain are expected to wreak havoc on their harvests.
Such services should be stepped up as they will make the sector worthwhile and attract more youth.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

You have upto 31st to vote

 Kindly vote for my blog  (pictured below) by following the link below.
 Individual Blog Vote:

There is need for concerted efforts from all players to get the youth involved in agriculture.

The event was flocked by the elderly with the youth
giving it a wide berth

I recently attended a farmers’ field day in Meru and as a strong advocate of youth for agriculture, I was amazed at their dismal performance in terms of attendance. There was practically no youth who came for the event except for those who were selling snacks to hungry grandmas and papas or driving them home after enlightening themselves, the event was flocked by the elderly in their retirement or almost and planning to invest in agriculture. This showed how the youth in Meru have lost touch with agriculture and this is also true for many other parts.
Concerted efforts such as those exhibited by YPARD, The New Agriculturist, CTA and many others geared towards supporting youth's involvement in agriculture need to be stepped up to wow more youth into the sector. In this same breath, youth in Kenya and Ghana are encouraged to join the YPARD’s  mentoring programme which seeks to empower the youth.