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Low Investment in Agriculture has been the Main Cause of Low Productivity

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Low investment in agriculture has been the main cause of low productivity. This has resulted in low production as well as low calorie intake. The level of calorie intake in recent years has shown a general decline from food staples though it is way above the minimum required intake. Caloric intake follows levels of production of staples in the country, increasing in output and decreasing when output declines.

Where output has been low, the deficit has been reduced through imports. The intake is however much lower than what is observed in the more developed countries. Caloric intake can be increased through increased consumption of other food staples such as plantain, rice and wheat products.

Low intake could be attributed to low production in agriculture, which is a result of low budgetary allocation to the sector. This has hampered implementation of most agricultural action plans in Kenya both at the National to the County levels. Currently, Kenya allocated about 5% of its budget to agriculture. This is way below the expected 10% as per the Malabo declaration of which Kenya is a signatory.

Unlike the high value crops which have high capital investment, investment in staples has been low. This has affected implementation of National and County level activities. Adoption of productivity enhancing strategies has been hampered. Extension services do not meet the demand in the sector.

The staple food is largely produced for home consumption and the nature of these markets influences the agricultural market development and the success of structured demand interventions. Smallholder farmers’ produce little and disaggregated marketable surplus. Therefore, efforts and interventions are required to increase production beyond the produce for home consumption. The impact of low output in the market place would imply that individuals have little or no bargaining power and the transaction costs (per unit) are high and thus reduced margins. This is one of the disincentives to production.

There is no one size fit all technology that can be used as a best practice for all crop products. Good cultural practices if well observed will lead to increased food production. As Tegemeo Institute has shown, the following can also improve maize production efficiency. The use of more widespread and intensive use of modern farming technologies, fertilizers, seed, improved extension effort, well -functioning input and output markets and irrigation. A recent study by Tegemeo Institute showed that a technology package gives higher yields than when inputs are just used without expert advice.

There is need to reduction of post-harvest losses in cereals and maize requires a systematic analysis of maize production and handling system is the logical first step in identifying an appropriate strategy. It would also need a cost benefit analysis to determine the return on investment in the recommended postharvest technologies. The technologies that are selected for each enterprise must be appropriate for their sizes. The technology interventions must be sensitive to local conditions and practices, be viewed within a value chain lens, and ensure that appropriate economic incentives are in place.

The need for a regulatory framework that promotes growth while safeguarding welfare; for adequate market information to be given to all participants involved; for further investment in postharvest research; and for participation in international agreements that promote trade and food safety.




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