by Njoroge Kaburo NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
will host an inaugural African continental conference next week
to discuss farming systems to mitigate climate change and other
ecological challenges, organizers said on Friday.
Amudavi, lead researcher and executive director of Bio-vision
Africa Trust, one of the organizers, said the conference, dubbed
International Conference on Agroecology, the first to be held in
the horn of Africa, will bring together more than 200
Topics will include the dangers of genetically modified
organisms and strategies for increasing the uptake of organic
initiatives in Africa.
"The conference will converge participants including farmers,
scientists, policymakers and organic business entrepreneurs from
various countries to discuss a way forward on how to
substantially and sustainably reduce the use of synthetic
pesticides and fertilizers in the African continent," Amudavi
told journalists in Nairobi.
The June 18-21 conference will facilitate the establishment
of "truly sustainable food and agriculture systems in the
continent," Amudavi said.
"The conference will further provide a platform for
discussions on how to enhance ecological trade in the region and
transform agricultural and food systems in Africa," he said.
Expert says organic farming critical to achieving food
security in Africa
NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Use of organic methods of farming and
integration of climate-resilient production systems are viable
solutions to food insecurity and achieving food safety in
Africa, an agricultural expert said on Friday.
Peter Mokaya, executive director of Organic Consumers
Alliance, an advocacy group for organic agriculture, said
agroecology has the potential to boost food production, food
security and nutrition while restoring the delicate ecosystem
and biodiversity that are essential for sustainable agriculture
"Not only does the approach offer the prospects for zero
hunger, poverty eradication, growth and sustainable resource
management, but also remain the safest method to be embraced by
the local population," he told a forum in Nairobi.
Mokaya noted the harm that chemicals cause to soils,
stressing the urgent need to develop alternatives that will help
farmers reduce the use of chemical fertilizers, and ideally to
stop using them altogether.
"It is unfortunate that the overuse of chemical fertilizers
that were supposed to improve farm yields continue to degrade
our lands and makes agriculture not really profitable for
farmers, and in some cases leading to a situation where lands
are affected by advanced degradation, posing a danger to the
food we eat," he said.
The expert said while striving to achieve food security, food
safety is an important component that cannot be ignored.
"Considering the potential risks of poisoning, burns,
cancers, birth defects and environmental degradation, chemical
fertilizers should be used with extreme caution," he said. "At
the same time we should reckon that there is no food security
without food safety."
Kenya urged to invest more in agriculture
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Experts on Friday urged Kenya to increase
investments in the agricultural sector to boost the country’s
Ken Gichinga, chief economist at Menotria Economics, said
agriculture is the largest sector of the economy that provides
the bulk of employment opportunities.
"Investments in the agricultural sector are likely to have
the biggest impact on the economy as compared to any other
sector," Gichinga said during a post-budget briefing by Ernst
On Thursday, Kenya launched its 3.02 trillion shilling (30
billion U.S. dollars) budget for 2019/2020 financial year.
In 2003, African heads of state signed the Maputo Declaration
on Agriculture and Food Security that urged the continent to
devote at least 10 percent of its budgetary resources to
Gichinga said that in the next financial year, Kenya has
devoted approximately 550 million dollars to agriculture, which
is less than 10 percent of budget.
The average age of a farmer in Kenya is above 50 years, with
the youth migrating to urban centers in search of employment
opportunities, he noted.
Bitange Ndemo, senior lecturer of the School of Business at
the University of Nairobi, said the government is not doing
enough to catalyze the growth of the agricultural sector.
Ndemo said Kenya is a net food importer despite having huge
tracts of arable land.
Value addition in the agricultural sector could help the
country achieve food security, he said.
Ndemo also called for efforts to cut waste in agricultural
"Between 30 to 40 percent of agricultural harvest goes to
waste," he said.
"There exist innovative solutions that can help to curb the
Pan African digital platform launched to spur female led
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- A pan African digital platform was
launched on Thursday to spur growth of female-led agriculture
based enterprises through provision of real time information on
sources of finance and markets.
The digital platform called Value 4 Her Connect that was
launched on the sidelines of the inaugural African women in
agribusiness conference underway in Nairobi is an initiative of
Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) in
partnership with African Women Agribusiness Network and Africa
Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF).
"The launch of value for her digital platform is an important
step towards digitizing agriculture and putting women
agripreneurs on the global market," said Chris Kiptoo, principal
secretary in Kenya’s ministry of trade.
He said the digital platform will help female agripreneurs
harness opportunities unleashed by establishment of an African
Continental Free Trade Area.
"The platform will enhance the capacity of African women and
youth to trade in agricultural commodities across borders hence
contributing to economic growth," said Kiptoo.
Female owners of agri-based enterprises with a working
capital not less than 2 million shillings (about 20,000 U.S.
dollars) are eligible to enlist in the digital platform to help
expand their footprint in the continental and global markets.
Irene Ochem, founder and chief executive officer of AWIEF
said the value for her digital platform is expected to boost
growth of women and youth owned agribusinesses across Africa.
"The launch of the pioneer digital platform for connecting
women in agribusiness was a milestone that will have multiplier
impact on our economies and livelihoods," said Ochem.
She said the platform will help connect women in agribusiness
to potential investors and networks they require to expand their
More than 400 women in agribusiness across Sub-Saharan
African region have already enrolled in the value for her
digital platform and the number is expected to grow thanks to
its positive impacts.
Beatrice Gakuba, executive director of African Women
Agribusiness Network said the launch of a digital platform is a
giant step towards addressing infrastructural, financing and
technical hurdles that have derailed growth of female led
"The platform will be a repository of information on markets,
agricultural technologies and financial inclusion," said Gakuba.
Michael Sudarkasa, chief executive officer of South Africa
based consultancy firm, Africa Business Group, said the value
for her digital platform will help female agripreneurs access
information on tariffs and phytosanitary standards to ease
penetration to overseas markets.
Kenya urges universities to harness agri research, innovation
for food security
NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya on Wednesday called on the
universities to step up agricultural research and share relevant
new technologies with farmers in order to boost food security.
George Magoha, cabinet secretary in the ministry of
education, stressed that agriculture was the most feasible and
viable way of creating wealth across Africa.
"Adoption of sound agricultural practices is a proven method
of poverty alleviation and wealth creation, and this can only be
realized through proper research," Magoha said during the
official opening of the fifth Nairobi Innovation Week.
He challenged the institutions to implement institutional
frameworks that focus on nurturing innovators and researchers
who can respond to the agricultural needs of the continent.
"You have been handed a critical pedestal to make societal
transformation, you should make maximum use of it," Magoha
He said the government was ready to set up a research and
innovation fund for continuous research by the varsity
researchers in various agricultural thematic areas.
The Kenyan official challenged students to engage in massive
research in order to support the government to realize the four
"The essence of getting a university degree is to help one
understand the societal problems and offer solutions, our
university students are not doing enough. this is a call of
action to all young innovators to scale up their research and
innovation," he noted.
The innovation week forum brings together 88 innovator from
universities across East Africa in support of Kenya’s government
Big Four Agenda with focus on food and nutrition, manufacturing,
housing and health areas.
Kenya to promote fish exports through product certification
NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya plans to promote the export of fish
through product certification, the standards agency said on
Bernard Njiraini, acting managing director of Kenya Bureau of
Standards (KEBS), said in a statement that it has established
laboratories for food, agriculture, microbiology, biochemistry
"The laboratories will offer testing, metrology and
calibration services and this will further promote the export of
fish and fishery products through product certification,"
He said that the modern laboratories will provide the
assurance for all the markets that products meet national safety
Ken Wathome, chairman of the National Standards Council said
that KEBS testing laboratories are able to undertake testing of
Wathome noted that in 2015, the European Union approved
imports of farmed fish and fishery products from Kenya following
a successful submission of the Implementation of Residue
The chairman said that other international markets for fish
and fishery products from Kenya include the United States,
Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
He added that the expand markets means that Kenya’s exports
products meet the international standards.