The government is set to start a nationwide registration of all farmers and livestock keepers as part of resource planning and weeding out of cartels and middlemen in the agriculture sector.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said yesterday that the plan to enrol all local farmers as part of efforts to shield them from exploitation by middlemen will start next month. Registration, he said, will also help in guiding sound planning of resources which the government extends every year to small-scale farmers, for example, the subsidised fertiliser and seeds.
“I am delighted to tell you that the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, with the support of the Ministry of ICT is gearing up to launch a national farmers registration exercise that will provide a database of all farmers in Kenya,” said Kiunjuri.
He made the remarks in a speech read on his behalf by the Ministry’s Chief Administrative Secretary, Andrew Tuimur during the opening of the 1st East Africa digital farmers’ conference and exhibition at Kenya Agricultural Research Organisation (Kalro) headquarters in Nairobi.
Registration of farmers, Kiunjuri said, will help the government know the number of farmers requiring fertilisers, subsidies, other farming needs and the acreage they hold.
Industry players say if the government had information on farmers, the latter would not have been denied an opportunity during the buying of maize and distribution of subsidised fertilisers by National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) between last October and March this year.
The CS said the registration of the farmers is part of the government long-term plan to promote e-agriculture. “With this digital database of farmers, I expect other agriculture-related applications to feed into and support our farmers and indeed policy makers in diverse ways,” he added.
Kiunjuri said adoption of information and communication technology in agriculture is expected to play a major role in the agricultural and rural development in the developing world.
He said once the e-agriculture farming applications are made available to framers, it will be easier for the government to monitor and provide support to small-scale farmers, provide soil suitability reports, weather data analytics and production forecasting.
Tuimur confirmed that government will next week start recruitment of 80,000 enumerators via Ajira portal to help in the registration of the farmers. The government, he said, will engage Form Four-leavers and university graduates. “The enumerators will be recruited at county level,” he said.
ICT Principal Secretary Jerome Ochieng said through Ajira platform the government has registered more than 60,000 youth who are buying and selling goods.