My prayer for a presidential order on high-yielding seeds, irrigation – Business Daily
Officials from the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) inspect water reservoir and pumps at River Galana on August 26, 2020. PHOTO | CHARLES LWANGA | NMG
And so to agriculture. We have been promised a revolution, but what we need now are no distractions. No talk or thought of sabotage, no politicking: just everyone to do their part and double our food production. For, really, it is possible, and we could do it so fast.
So let’s keep it simple. First base, let’s make high-yield seeds a term everybody knows. For, of course, we can use the seeds our grandfather used. But we could grow a tomato, or cassava, or passion fruit seed that delivers twice as much fruit.
So, let’s make posters and put them in every agrovet: six high-yield seeds that can double your food. Let’s do seed fairs, just a single van, touring the country, with a stand on key seeds that massively increase food output.
Let’s ask every bank to SMS its customers telling them the best high-yield seeds, and ask Safaricom too – a text, please, to everyone. From 2022, think about seeds, and use high-yield ones.
Then let’s mobilise seed producers. Maybe someone can persuade KALRO to produce a simple high-yield seed catalogue, just a list, and mark which of the organisation’s sites and offices producers can buy them from.
And then design and deliver a training course from KALRO plus KEPHIS on how to become a seed grower: a course that trains 60 farmers a week x 10 trainers = 600 – by presidential order? Create that course so it costs Sh3,000, not Sh30,000, because it’s not meant as a profit centre, but to be sustainable and change our food outlook.
Then choose trainees so they get rich by changing their community’s productivity. We have voluntary community health workers across the country. I was looking, last week, at a scheme in Nigeria that has created voluntary community agricultural extension officers.
It chooses the most educated or respected in the village and then shows them how to produce better seeds, which they grow for 10 families that they are assigned, getting paid for the planting materials when they are ready, and showing their hub families how to grow them. Maybe we could set up one for every 100 families and at least begin.
We still need fertiliser, but anyone can make that from chicken droppings, human urine, weeds, or as ‘green fertiliser’ from fast-growing crops we dig in. So my last prayer is for small-scale irrigation.
The return, in case you care, on investments in small-scale irrigation is over $6.50 added to GDP, per year, for every $1 put into small-scale irrigation.
Now just picture Sh5 million invested by every county, that’s Sh1.5 billion extra a year, right there, making us all richer by ending poverty and making more food.