By Ian Mutiso
Technological innovation has shaped agriculture since the creation of the plough to GPS-driven precision farming equipment. Man has developed new ways to make farming efficient and produce more food.
Food security has been made fundamental among Kenya’s Big Four government agenda with Kenya’s agricultural sector growing by 4.8% annually since 2012.
Kenya’s agriculture GDP share lies at 33% as of 2016. While the food deficit has decreased, the country still has higher food quantities than the rest of sub-Saharan Africa and world averages.
Kenya seeks to solve the food shortage issue by initiating a planned steady annual economic growth of 10%.
To do so, Kenya is putting in place a 10-year Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (2019-2090), prioritizing the transformation of smallholder subsistence-based farming, to a more innovative, commercially orientated, and modern agricultural sector.
Recognizing the role technology has to play in agriculture, President William Ruto’s government lifted the ban on Genetic Modified Organisms (GMO) crop farming in order to elevate food production.
Furthermore, DP Rigathi Gachagua affirms that the government’s foreign policy is centered on agri-business. Adding that up to 70% of Kenya’s ambassadors’ responsibilities will be to find a market for Kenyan agricultural produce.
During the Kenya Diaspora Leadership Forum launch in Brussels, Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Kenyan ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg promised to disrupt the Kenyan economy by fronting innovation, technology, and research in collaboration with Belgian universities.
The aim is to transform arid and semi-arid regions of Kenya into successful food baskets for the country, banking on modern technology and design to improve soil quality and fertility.
Bitange expressed his faith in technology and agriculture stating that “Technology is going to play a major role in the transformation of the agricultural sector.”
Active initiatives in the agricultural sector include studies by Alvin smack, a professor at Michigan University who in partnership with the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) has started trials of sub-surface water retention in Makueni county.
The aim is to improve water retention in sandy soils, reduction of underground water contamination by agricultural chemicals and reducing production cost.