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Save the date: Agricultural machinery event tailormade for small-and-medium scale farmers in the offing

By Clifford Akumu

Kenyan farmers and stakeholders will get an opportunity to view, experience and access the latest in Italian agricultural innovations, mechanisation and technologies required to spur the sector’s growth and development, later this year.

Speaking in Nairobi recently while launching the 45th edition of the EIMA International Exhibition, Alessandro Malavolti, President of the Italian Federation of Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers (FederUnacoma), said the exhibition presents an opportunity for Kenya to focus on its technology needs to increase its agricultural productivity, ensure food security, and develop trade.

Italian agricultural machinery

“Italy’s agricultural industry manufactures machinery that is customised towards the target farmers’ local needs and the prevailing ecological and environmental conditions. We are focused on small-and-medium sized agricultural machinery, which are the most ideal for smallholder farming,” he said at the meeting.

“We still believe that Italy is the right partner for African countries because the machinery industry is more focused on small-and-medium scale mechanisation. We have the most appropriate solutions for Africa’s smallholder farmers compared to other western industries,” added Fabio Ricci FederUnacoma Deputy Director General.

The exhibition will be held at the Bologna Fairgrounds in Italy from November 9 to 13 this year.

Italian export to sub-Saharan Africa is unfortunately quite low, said Fabio Ricci FederUnacoma Deputy Director General.

Latest figures from FederUnacoma’s 2021 data states that Africa accounts for only 4 per cent of Italian export by area of destination. Europe had the highest at 69 per cent, America 18 per cent and Asia a distant third at 7 per cent.

Mr Ricci added that EIMA will offer countries small-and-medium mechanisation solutions, meet, and learn about the technical specifications of the machineries, and how they can be adopted for the local needs for different crops.

“It is not only enough to introduce and implement agricultural machinery, but also critical to transfer the latest agronomic practices matching with the machinery to farmers to increase productivity,” added Ricci.

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Inadequate mechanization stifling productivity

Speaking during the launch, Engineer Laban Kiplagat, chief engineer State Department of Crops and Development, Ministry of Agriculture said inadequate mechanisation is stifling the country’s agricultural productivity.

High cost of machinery, quality, land fragmentation, unfavourable tax regimes and inadequate credit facilities, explained Eng. Kiplagat, are the major barriers to agricultural mechaninsation in the country.

“Getting the right farm machinery to the land is becoming a challenge. I fail to understand why lenders are not putting much effort into loaning farmers as they do to other sectors. When some of the machines are worn out, for example, spare part availability also becomes a challenge,” said Kiplagat.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Africa overall has less than two tractors per 1,000 hectares of cropland. There are 10 tractors per 1,000 hectares in South Asia and Latin America.

The level of mechanisation in Kenya currently stands at 30 per cent. Engineer Kiplagat noted that mechanisation is a key input towards increasing agricultural productivity.

“With mechanisation, this country can improve the efficiency, effectiveness and quality of agriculture products,” he said.

National agricultural mechanisation policy

Kiplagat noted that the ministry and partners are already working on a national agricultural mechanisation policy that will enable smallholder farmers reap from agricultural mechanisation.

The Bologna forum is divided into 14 specialized sectors and five theme shows, respectively dedicated to components (EIMA Components), advanced electronic and information technologies (Digital), gardening and landscaping (Green), bioenergy supply chains (Energy) and irrigation systems (Idrotech).

 

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