From every 10 farms that you visit in Kenya you discover that 4 are desolate. Farm equipment and structures have been abandoned farmers got tired and gave up! But why is farming in Kenya generally such intense and hard work?
There are several factors that will make food security in Kenya a mirage, and making money from farming, a pipe dream:
Consumers are ignorant and have retrogressive myths
The consumer is the king, or so they say. But when the King is ignorant, he needs guidance and enlightenment. We all love fresh foods and most Kenyans want to eat foods direct from the farm. But what is so wrong about refrigerated foods?
Do you know how hard and complicated it is for farmers to provide foods direct from the farms every day?
We complain of brokers, but some of these consumer demands are the ones that make brokers thrive. Do you know if a hotel places an order for 30 Kienyeji chicken, fresh from farm, weighing 1.2 Kilograms every day, no one can supply other than a broker?
This is because, to supply this from one farm would create a serious operational challenge. You will need to be raring batches of 30 chickens, which would behave to be introduced every other day, and in almost 60 separate sections of your farm…That is unimaginable.
In the countries where refrigerated produce isn’t a problem, that would be a small operation. One small farmer would be keeping 1000 chicken and would slaughter and freeze them, when they attain 1.2 kilos. He would then remove 30 pieces every day to service the order.
The chicken house is also freed for the next batch, and the farmer doesn’t overfeed the chickens while looking for customers. That makes a lot of sense.
Consumers in Kenya must start embracing eating habits that make farming sustainable and farm produce affordable. You can’t have your cake and eat it.
We don’t store and preserve during plenty
To stabilize agricultural supplies, we must learn to store farm produce. We must learn to preserve foods during the time of plenty.
In Africa, we are a spoilt lot. We expect life to be kind to us, all the time. But nature is a duality. There must be night and day.
There must be rainy season, and dry season. There must be life, and there must be death. To all living beings, nature expects adjustments in each season.
Animals, plants, and even bees learn how to preserve during plenty, for use during scarcity.
Why do human beings, especially in Africa, think we are different or special?
We must learn how to preserve tomatoes, potatoes, mangos, maize, and all, when we have plenty. We must build cold storage, we must learn to hygienically preserve agricultural produce.
That is the only way we will be able to stabilize agricultural markets and ensure food security. We don’t use available and affordable farming technology.
Why are donkeys and pushcarts still on our highways? Why are farmers still using hoes? I hear hoes was an innovation of over 3000 years ago. In this part of the world, people must be forced to change, otherwise, we will continue to live in the stone age.
Why are we always late to embrace simple and cheap technology? No wonder the youth are not interested in farming.
It is hard work! There is a difference between ‘working hard’ and ‘hard work’. Donkeys are the ones who must do hard work.
Human beings must learn how to make work easier all the time. You need to identify the right thing, the right methods, and the right tools then, you can work very hard to achieve your objectives.
But when you do hard work, without any meaningful achievement life is miserable. In India and China, they have developed many small hand-held farm equipment that don’t cost much. Look for them and use them.
lack of quality inputs and methods
We know that regulatory bodies in Kenya cannot help us in this area.
We also know that many farm inputs manufacturers are fraudulent. But we also have a problem. Why do we always go for the cheapest inputs and expect quality results?
Cheap is never good and good is never cheap. The rumor mills have told you If you are farming in Kenya there is nothing like quality inputs. They have told you that companies that produce quality and premium inputs are just out to exploit farmers. And you have believed. We end up creating and trading myths that don’t help the murky situation we are already in.