KENYA – Global agriculture firm Syngenta has launched a crop protection center, the first of its kind in Kenya, in a bid to offer various skills to farmers and boost food production in the country.
The facility which was launched in Lioki, Kiambu County is envisioned to enable farmers to move from mono-crops/staple foods to more diversified commercial farming as well as adopt new emerging technologies.
The center was built with the support of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), a Swiss-based non-profit international development organization aiming at creating value for smallholder farmers.
The firm achieves its goal by promoting sustainable agriculture technologies and activation of value chains that help farmers to increase food production, improve access to markets, and mitigate risks.
The protection center is timely as food production in Kenya has been trending downwards due to poor agronomic knowledge and prolonged drought.
The result has been historically high food prices which the government is trying to combat through a raft of measures including duty-free food commodities and fertilizer subsidies for farmers.
According to Head of Crop Protection Development Africa and Middle East Albrecht Michel, the center will offer farmers solutions that have been tried and tested under local conditions through best agronomical practices
Fredrick Otieno, Syngenta’s head of business in East Africa, said that the launch is timely as the facility will help tackle agriculture’s most complex challenges, increase innovation, and advance more sustainable agriculture for food security in Kenya, East Africa, and beyond.
Additionally, he noted that Syngenta will collaborate with government institutions, youths, students, and researchers to take farming in Kenya to the next level.
Mukuna Mutura, an extension officer with Syngenta added that the launch of the facility closer to the farmer will bring harmony between technology and innovation at the laboratory with implementation at the farm.
According to him, most agricultural research still occurs on the research station, where scientists experience conditions quite different from those experienced by farmers.
Therefore, Mukuna showed optimism that by localizing innovation and research adjacent to farmers, the aftermath would be a boost in global food security.
During the announcement, the County through the governor, Dr. Kimani Wamatangi committed to dispatching certified maize and bean seeds worth KES 30M (US$230,061) and KES 5M (US$38,344) respectively during this planting season.
Kiambu county also plans to distribute coffee fertilizer, avocado seedlings, fingerlings, three-month-old piglets, and indigenous chicks to farmers in all 60 wards.
Otieno revealed that Syngenta will launch a second knowledge Centre in the food basket-rich Uasin Gishu county in the coming months.