Nearly 200,000 Kenyan small-scale farmers stand to benefit from a crop relief initiative launched by Bayer East Africa and its partners.
The Ksh93 million programme will provide maize and vegetable seeds to farmers facing economic constraints because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first consignment of 300 tonnes of hybrid maize and vegetable seeds will be distributed in Tana River, Machakos, Kitui, Tharaka Nithi, Meru, Kilifi, Kwale, and Laikipia East. The seeds will be supplied by Bayer’s Dekalb corn seed.
The Seminis vegetable seeds will be given out in Bungoma, Narok, and Uasin Gishu counties. The first phase targets the eastern belt counties that receive the short rains in October.
Farmers will also get extension services from professionals based on their crop seasons.
Bayer East Africa Managing Director Laurent Perrier said the programme was meant to boost food security and nutrition.
“Equipping farmers with the right tools can conserve resources and fight climate change. The impact will be priceless in terms of food security and knowledge transfer,” he said.
The initiative dubbed, ‘Better farms, better lives’, will also be rolled out in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Mozambique to aid 700,000 smallholders between 2020-2022.
To reach the farmers, Bayer is working with the government and some NGOs. The Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (Agra) will liaise with the county governments to distribute the seeds.
The head of extension and capacity building at Agra, Mr Paul Seward, said they would ride on its model of Village-Based Advisors (VBAs) for distribution.
“VBAs have been impactful in Kiambu County, where 100 of them reach about 200 farmers. They distribute seeds and teach farmers good agronomical practices,” Mr Seward said.
The Agriculture Principal Secretary, Prof Hamadi Boga, said that the government had put in place policies to transform the smallholders’ productivity to boost food security.
“Smallholders need support on inputs more than ever before during this Covid-19 period. I thank Bayer and partners for this initiative,” Prof Boga said while flagging off the initiative in Nairobi.