NAIROBI – Kenya’s Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has emphasized the need for collaborative efforts among various stakeholders in the agricultural sector to support smallholder farmers and address large-scale agricultural challenges. This call for cooperation was made during the 7th AgriFin Learning Event (ALE) in Nairobi, aimed at building a resilient, inclusive, and sustainable future for smallholder farmers in Africa.
According to Kenya News Agency, delivered by Deputy Director of Agriculture Phyllis Njane, pooling resources, both financial and human, through collaborative projects is essential for tackling pressing agricultural issues. These collaborations can benefit both developed and developing regions. The event, themed ‘Resilient, Inclusive, and Sustainable Food Systems: Enhancing Collaboration to Scale Digital Solutions,’ focused on innovative strategies and technologies in agriculture.
Linturi highlighted the critical juncture at which food systems currently stand, facing challenges like hunger, malnutrition, biodiversity loss, and climate change. He noted that with Africa’s population expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2050, a significant increase from the current 1.4 billion, there would be immense pressure on production resources, potentially leading to biodiversity loss. In Kenya, the population is projected to grow from 53 million to over 90 million by 2050, underscoring the need for sustainable agricultural practices.
Agriculture’s significant contribution to Kenya’s economy was also underlined by Linturi, who stated that the sector accounts for 33.3% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) directly and another 57% indirectly. It also employs over 40% of the total population and more than 70% of the rural population. He reiterated the government’s recognition of agriculture as a key driver for growth and its potential to address various economic challenges.
Linturi further explained that addressing the myriad of agricultural challenges requires interdisciplinary solutions involving agronomy, genetics, engineering, and data science. He stressed the importance of investing in agriculture to create a sustainable and resilient food system.
Echoing Linturi’s sentiments, Dr. James Mwangi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Equity Group Holdings, highlighted that 60% of their customers are small-scale farmers. He mentioned the strategic approach of allocating 30% of their balance sheet to agriculture, reflecting its contribution to the GDP. Mwangi emphasized the significance of adopting an ecosystem approach that encompasses all stages of agricultural production, from preparation to market facilitation.
The 7th AgriFin Learning Event represents a significant platform for stakeholders to discuss and develop strategies to enhance the role of smallholder farmers in Africa, thereby contributing to the continent’s overall food security and economic development.