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CS Owalo recognizes technology for transforming farming

CS Owalo recognizes technology for transforming farming


Wednesday, May 22, 2024

KNA by Geoffrey Satia

Agricultural sector in Kenya has undergone a massive transformation with the use of new digital tools and devices.

While speaking in Nandi, Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication and the Digital Economy, Eliud Owalo said the way farmers grow crops and how it ends to the final consumer is now shaped by dramatic digital evolvement.

The CS noted that with the use of information and communication technology, farming is changing for the better hence improving the food security and foreign exchange in our economy.

“The growth of mobile phones and other digital devices such as unmanned aerial devices commonly known as drones have made it possible to monitor everything from soil conditions to weather patterns,” Owalo said when he represented the Head of Public Service Felix Koskei during International Tea Day celebrated at Bears Club, in Nandi Hills.

He stated that ICT has also made it easier for farmers to monitor their crops, respond to threats such as diseases or pests while using fewer resources.

Owalo noted that from data analytics to the use of drones, ICT is revolutionizing agriculture with improved productivity thereby translating into increased earnings for farmers across the country.

“The use of technology in e-agriculture is accelerating agricultural development by adapting innovative means to improve existing information and communication processes,” Owalo emphasised.

He said that information about market prices for agricultural commodities, agriculture machinery, climate, value addition and early warning systems can now be disseminated through such online outlets.

The CS revealed that the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy is playing a vital role in delivering government core priorities while recognising the use of technology in various key areas such as agriculture.

“Information and communication technology remains one of the key enablers across the government for delivery of digital economy for sustainable economic development of the country,” he said

According to him, digitalization, the use of mobile technology and social media is reshaping many sectors including agriculture.

He also mentioned the emerging use of Artificial Intelligence that has made it possible to recognize trends and undertake predictive analysis in modern farming and many other sectors.

CS Owalo was glad that the tea sub-sector in Kenya has continued to embrace digital technologies and practices that have led to improved efficiency, productivity and effectiveness and service delivery to the public.

“Mechanical harvesting has led to improved efficiency in tea harvesting, leading to improved productivity and saving on cost of production,” he noted.

However, he expressed concern over cost constraints to maintain the tea harvesting equipment among the small scale farmers.

He said the government was keen on growing value-added tea exports, expanding the market base and product diversification in green tea, purple and tea extracts with the aim of bettering farmer’s returns.

The CS pointed out that the tea sub-sector is one of Kenya’s leading foreign exchange earners accounting for 25 percent of the country’s total foreign exchange earnings.

He was happy that the supply of tea in Nandi and its environs had increased through the provision of government subsidised fertiliser programs as well as finance and agricultural extension support.

Agriculture and Livestock Development Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi who also graced the occasion hailed the establishment of the China-Kenya Tea Trade Centre as this will widen Kenya’s tea market in China hence improving the welfare of tea farmers especially the small holders.

He said the government was keen to improve the tea sub-sector because it employs more than 650,000 Kenyans.

Nandi Deputy Governor Dr. Yulita Mitei while addressing the event said tea farmers and other farming areas in the county were being encouraged to practice smart agriculture as a way of tackling climate change especially through growing of trees.

Earlier, CS Owalo had led the National Tree Growing exercise at Kamarich Beat, Kobujoi Forest in Aldai where he appealed to all Kenyans to become part and parcel of planting trees as a sure way of tackling climate change and ensuring food security.

Also in attendance were heads and representatives of various tea players and stakeholders including East African Tea Trade Association chair Arthur Sawe, KTDA Chair, Enos Njeru, Director Eastern Produce Kenya Limited Leah Kibii and Managing Director Kipchimchim Group Benard Soi among others.

Courtesy; KNA

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