In many parts of Kenya, small scale farms remain at the center of agriculture and rural development. However, productivity of these farms is dismally low leading to high level of food insecurity. One of the main causes for the low level of agricultural productivity is the lack of appropriate agricultural machines and equipment that cater to and suit the requirements of small scale farms. For this reason, many small farms are deemed as unproductive and inefficient. There is need for the development and utilization of small farm mechanization systems and technologies for the greater benefit of small scale farmers. This project intends to bridge this gap by providing a one-stop-shop (The AgriHub) where farmers can easily access and hire any type of farms machinery they may need on time and at an affordable rates.
On the other hand, Kenya’s agriculture is mainly rain-fed and is entirely dependent on the bimodal rainfall in most parts of the country. A large proportion of the country, accounting for more than 80%, is semi-arid and arid with an annual rainfall average of 400 mm. Droughts are frequent and crops fail in one out of every three seasons. However, farmers rarely prepare their land and plant on the onset of rain season. Failure to do so leads to crop failure as most of the semi-arid lands rain comes once. Timely planting is of utmost importance if famers are to benefit from erratic rains. A need arise therefore to provide farmers with timely information and equip them with agribusiness skills to increase their skills and hence farm productivity. The AgriHub is intended to bridge this information gap once it’s operational.
A need arise therefore to provide farmers with timely information and equip them with agribusiness skills to increase their skills and hence farm productivity.
Many small scale farmers in Kenya still clinch on the rudimentary farming practices. The use of hoe, pangas and jembes in land preparation, planting, weeding and even harvesting is still widespread. Elsewhere around the world, it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the use of agricultural machinery to mechanize the work of agriculture has significantly seen a great increase in farm worker productivity and farm production capacity. In contemporary farming practices, farm machinery has replaced many jobs formerly carried out by humans using hands or animals such as oxen, horses and mules. A major contributing factor to low contribution of mechanization to agricultural development in the country especially within the small scale farm holders has been the fragmented approach to mechanization and lack of access of such machines by farmers. By far, the cost of farm machinery still remain way beyond reach of many small scale farmers.
In bridging this gap, KENDAT with support from the Kenya Feed the Future Innovation Engine of USAID is setting up an AgriHub at Mwireri market in Meru County. The Agrihub will be equipped with equipment’s where farmers will easily access and hire them at an affordable price. KENDAT will also train service providers and farmers on the use of the machine and on best farming practices, entry point being Conservation Agriculture Mechanization Services by trained service providers. The AgriHub’s long term goal is to provide a platform for the sharing of practical application of existing systems and technologies as well as of strategies that will be most effective in the adoption and utilization of small farm machineries. In short, the AgriHub will be a sharing platform where farmers will exchange knowledge and skills on best farming and farm mechanization practices to increase their farm productivity. The Hubs vision and plan is to grow into a Centre of Excellence for Agribusiness.