Sh98m agri-tech plan to boost Vihiga maize production


Maize farmers sun drying their produce. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Maize farmers in Vihiga County are set to benefit from a Sh98 million project backed by the French that seeks to promote efficient use of government-subsidised fertiliser to improve yields.

The 18-month project dubbed Kenyan Innovation for Low Impact Maize Production (Kilimo) will deploy satellite imaging to map the soil health conditions and generate tailor-made data for individual farmers.

French agri-tech company Itk will spearhead the project’s roll-out in partnership with, among others, Airbus Defence and Space.

“Our scientific objective with the Kilimo project is to accurately capture data on the daily carbon, water and nutrient cycles of soils. Our decision support tools help to improve soil health, reduce fertiliser use and increase crop yields,” said Aline Bsaibes, the director-general of Itk.”

Individual farmers will receive information via SMS or voice message, ensuring that government-issued fertiliser subsidies are used efficiently and cases of theft reduced.

Itk already offers other digital and mobile tools to support African farmers in improving their maize and cotton production, through their partner E-tumba.

Kenya has recently seen increased rollout of agri-tech by private companies that seek to improve sales of their produce while helping farmers to improve yields.