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Enterprise

New project to help smallholder farmers mechanise rolled out

Athi River
A farmer irrigates his farm using water from Athi River near Fourteen Falls on July 3. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG 

Kenya has embarked on an ambitious plan to mechanise agriculture in a bid to cut cost of labour and improve productivity.

The move, which is targeting small-scale farmers, is a joint initiative between the government of Kenya and South Korea under the Korea Africa Food and Agricultural corporation initiative (KAFACI) project.

The project is aimed at lifting the current mechanisation rate of 30 percent to at least 40 percent in he coming years.

Mechanisation remains a big challenge to farmers, especially smallholders.

“What this initiative is looking at is to mechanise agriculture in the country by coming up with the best technology that can work for small-scale holders given that most of their farms are too small, restricting the movement of bigger machineries,” says Noah Wawire, director at the Agricultural Mechanisation Research Institute.

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Dr Wawire said they are conducting research with the Korean Rural Development Administration, which is funding the project, to learn from the best practices in the Asian country.

Director General of the Kenya Agriculture Livestock Research Organisation, Eliud Kireger said the cost of acquiring machine has been a major hindrance to small-scale farmers.

Richard Kanui, engineering secretary at the state department of agriculture, said the government will open up aggregation centres for machines where farmers can lease at affordable rates.

“We have already identified 10 places where we are starting a pilot phase of aggregation centres where farmers can go and get the machine that they want to use and they can lease it at an affordable cost,” said Mr Kanui.

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