Kenya’s coastal region has for decades been associated with endemic food insecurity, but the situation has changed thanks to the adoption of high yielding crops by small-holder farmers.

Margaret Jefwa, director of agriculture in Kilifi County, said hunger and malnutrition are being slowly edged out as farmers grow high value crops in the fertile plains adjacent to some of the largest rivers in the coastal region.

“The youths have adopted agriculture in large numbers and are today growing high-value crops as a business,” Jefwa told reporters during an interview in Malindi.

She noted that the youths have helped improve food security in the region as their produce is sold both locally and in the major towns in the coastal region and beyond.

The Kilifi county government has bought and delivered 98 small water pumps and 19 big pumps to a group of farmers along the Sabaki river basin, Jefwa said.

The county government gave farmers water pumps due to the unreliability of the rainfall that has for many years undermined food security in the region, she said.

Saidi Abdallah Kalume, a 39-year-old farmer in Gogoranamba village, Gorashi town, last year earned 1.6 million Kenyan shillings (16,000 U.S dollars) from tomatoes that he grew in his five-acre farm.

Out of the amount, he bought a 30 horsepower water pump, at 1,600 dollars, which has enabled him to hire an additional three acres of land, Kalume said.

“I employ 25 casuals during peak season but retain nine of them at all time,” Kalume said at his farm.

His life has changed since he started commercial farming, he said.

“I pity the youth who still think that jobs are found in urban centers. I wish they knew that they have left millions of money in the soil in their villages,” said Kalume, who grows maize, pawpaw, okra, brinjals, kale, and tomatoes.

During his first attempt at farming in 2016, he made a profit of 230 dollars and earned an additional 870 dollars in the second attempt, he said.

Kalume sells his pawpaw and other produce to contracted hotels in Malindi and Mombasa that he supplies on a weekly basis.

“I supply 4,000 kilograms of pawpaw on a weekly basis from my 2,000 trees,” he said. Enditem


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