The Sh16million government funded Makueni Agricultural Training Centre is set to be unveiled mid this year and is touted as one of the premier institutions to benefit farmers match theory and practice in modern farming as government moves to transform the neglected area into a vibrant food production zone.
So far the government has bought machinery for the county to construct dams, wells and earth dams meant to help it undertake agricultural irrigation. According to a statement by Agriculture permanent secretary Romano Kiome the need to establish the premier agricultural training institution in the area was birthed by growing concern over a region that has potential to feed itself and the country but was still struggling with vagaries of weather.
“We want to go the Israel way. We dont have to have a lot of water to plant, we just need adequate water that can be utilized in the best way possible using modern techniques. Training in this kind of farming is therefore,”read a statement from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Farmers in Ukambani have traditionally blamed the harsh climatic conditions for the dismal food production. This, even with sights of large amounts of water flowing through River Athi to the ocean while crops wither just a kilometre from the riverbanks.
The training Centre will be open to interested farmers and will entail a comprehensive syllabus with main subjects like farming in the climate era, greenhouse farming, pest control, water harvesting and livestock breeding among others forming the core of the training. Training will be according to farmers' needs and will run for a minimum of six weeks upto an year. “The government is working with development partners to see that the course is subsidized and within reach of the farmers. Our aim is to have as many farmers as possible enroll in the programme,”said Wallace Mutisya one of the agricultural officers involved in crafting the syllabus.
The Israeli government has also launched a programme to revive the University of Nairobi’s agricultural research centre in the area that collapsed and most of the equipment left to rust.
“This dry land can feed the entire region and the whole country. We want it to be like the Promised Land that every one will stop by to have a look,” said Israel ambassador to Kenya, Gil Haskel, on a tour of the area.
Written by Aloyse Muinde for African Laughter