The Government of Kenya being cognizant of the blue economy as a new frontier for development and having acknowledged it as the 8th economic pillar for the achievement of vision 2030, organized a two day confrence on Sustainable blue economy at the Grand Royal Swiss Hotel in Kisumu.
The conference held under the theme, ”Harnessing the Blue Economy Opportunities in the Lake Region” focuses on driving economic development through provision of transportation, exploitation of offshore oil and gas resources, tourism, creation of employment opportunities, provision of food, nutrition and livelihoods to hundreds of millions of people.
Kisumu Governor, Professor Nyong’o while giving his opening remarks, reiterated that opening of the Kisumu Port will set a new path to economic recovery in both the region and nationally. This will provide an investment opportunity to government and private sectors to tap the potential of leisure, tourism, transport, fishing among other economic activities associated with the lake
While giving his speech during the official opening of the conference, the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Dr Mwangi Kiunjuri stated that sustainable utilization of Lake Victoria and other water resources in the region is an integral part of the big four agenda and socioeconomic wellbeing of communities in the five (5) riparian counties namely Busia, Siaya,Kisumu, Homabay and Migori. However, Lake Victoria fishery has experienced a worrying decline in fish stocks and diversity, and subsequent fall in fish catches of 64% from 140 000Mts to 90 000Mts per year in the last five years
This he attributed to unsustainable fishing practices as a result of weak oversight and enforcement; proliferation of water hyacinth; conversion of sensitive shoreline wetlands; political interference in the management of fisheries; and weak collaboration between the National and County Governments
He promised that his Ministry will address the challenges by reviving fisheries in the region, implementing the new policy and institutional framework on fisheries management, enforcement of fisheries regulations, develop incubation of fisheries and aquaculture enterprises to increase fish consumption and food security, livelihoods and wellbeing of the communities in the region
Also in attendance were Principle Secretary Fisheries, Professor Micheni Ntiba, Dr James Nyikal representing MPs in the region, Deputy Governor Vihiga County Dr Patrick Lumumba Saisi ,Vice Chancellors from Maseno University, Bondo University, TUK University, County Ministers from the region, Heads of Technical training institutes, Chief Executive Officers from Parastatals in the region, Chief Officers from Counties within the region, MDs of private sectors among other guests.
The South Africa High Commissioner, Thembela Ngculu in the company of Counsellor Economic and Investment Advisor, Zanele Sanni today visited the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts and Sports where they were received by the Ag Chief Officer Mr. Thomas Ouko.
The aim of their visit was to discuss the investment opportunities and the areas of collaboration within the department ahead of the 9th Africities summit to be held in Kisumu come 2021.
In his presentation on the Tourism investment opportunities, Mr. Ouko highlighted the key areas such as the Lake Victoria Convention Center- conference facility, Hospitality and training center, Aqua Park, Cruise ship, Water Sports, One stop Sports Complex, Film Park, Kisumu beach Golf Hotel, Kisumu museum amphitheater, among many others.
Some of the lead products currently being marketed by the department include: Kisumu International Airport being the shortest route to Maasai Mara compared to Nairobi- Jinja, Kit Mikayi heritage site, Impala Sanctuary, Equator line and Agro tourism (Ahero rice schemes and sugar)
The Chairman KNCCI, Mr. Israel Agina and the Director, Mr. Albert Ojonyo during the discussions elaborated on their partnership with the County on development of the Lake front where plans are underway to expand the Golf area and putting up hotel to the world class standards to encourage Golf Sports in the region.
They have also partnered with the County in pushing for direct flights to Kisumu International Airport to boost business in the region.
The South Africa High Commissioner, on his part, gave a nod to the development activities outlined, and willingly affirmed their participation to bridge the gap before the Africities conference in 2021.
“South Africa has identified Kenya as a strategic development partner in the continent since we share experiences on how to respond to development challenges”, he said
He reiterated that they stand ready to collaborate with the County on the development opportunities outlined.
Also present in the meeting were: Winnie Otieno CEO KNCCI, KenInvest, Kisumu regional Manager, Mr. Laban Mburu, County Director for Sports, Mr. Ken Otieno, and County Officers from department of Tourism
Rice farmers in Ahero irrigation scheme can breathe a sigh of relief now that they are ready to take home a bumper harvest from the rice fields of block A.
This was manifested during the official launch of the harvest by the CEC Member Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries Mr Gilchrist Okuom on Friday.
Block A has a total acreage of 285 and the farmers from this block have garnered averagely 30 bags per acre an increase from the previous harvests where they have been getting 20 bags per acre.
This exercise comes after their crops were affected by the hailstorm which caused a major blow to the farmers rendering them unproductive.
In a bid to meet one of the big 4 agenda on food security, The County government partnered with the National Irrigation Authority formerly NIB, to bring back to production the farmers of bocks A, F and G.
The County government pumped in a total of 14million of which 1.5million covers the cost of bailing rice straws and 12.5million to cover the cost of rotavation, transplanting, weeding, fertilizers and harvesting.
The NIB wrote off 5 million loaned to the farmers for seeds, Operations and maintence (O&M) and allowed them back to production in the next crop 66 without upfront payment of O&M and also provided them with seeds.
Speaking to the farmers during the launch of the harvest, the County Director for Agriculture, Mr. Okech noted that inadequate water and hailstorm are challenges likely to reoccur hence insurance was key for sustainable production and that planting a variety that meets the needs of the local market was not optional.
The same sentiments were echoed by the NIB Ahero branch Manager, Mr Joel Tanui who stated that “We can’t afford to go back to what we faced recently” hence it was clear that insurance was the way to go. He also assured them of a ready market for the Basmati variety that would be bought by the lake Basin Development Authority.
He said that out of the 14 million invested in the production by the County government, a return of 56million is expected after the harvest, and that as NIB they plan to expand irrigation within the County to a tune of 150 million especially considering to change the mindset of farmers in Muhoroni to diversify crop production.
The County Minister for Agriculture on his part called on farmers to learn to do farming differently from what was done in the past. He emphasized the incorporation of three key issues namely: insuring their farms to mitigate unforeseen calamities, forming cooperatives that will give them bargaining power for funds allocation and mechanized farming to boost production and productivity.
Also present were the MCA Awasi Hon. Ngeta standing in for the area MCA, Hon. Vitalis Otura,the Sub county agricultural officer Mr. Arthur Hongo, Ward agricultural officer, Esther Onyango, and agricultural Officer from the County headquarters, Mr Domnic among other guests.
Embracing mechanized and commercial farming were the Key words emphasized by speakers during the farmers field day marked yesterday at Kano West Irrigation scheme in Kabonyo Kanyagwal ward, Kisumu County.
It was noted with concern that Kisumu County has not commercialized rice farming since they only do it for subsistence and that they have only stuck with the IR variety which has no demand in the market. This has been a setback from the competition from Tanzania and Pakistan’s rice which are of preferred varieties and affordable.
Farmers were advised to take up mechanized farming and innovative technologies that will reduce the production and milling cost, to enable them compete in the market.
The County Director for crops Mr Sylvester Oketch called on the farmers to practice market oriented production by producing varieties that are in demand in the market using the consortium approach in working with the stakeholders in the value chain
On his part Dr Omanga put the farmers to task to see to it that rice from Kisumu is produced to the right quality and quantities and that it is packed branded and sold to the local and international markets.
The area MCA Hon. Oiko Pete called upon the youths to engage in commercialized farming to boost their economic empowerment and livelihoods.
The Chairman agricultural committee in the County Assembly, Hon Vitalis Otura on his part said Kisumu has been producing 24 metric tons of rice and they want to scale it up to 30 metric tons by providing necessary support such as water supply and farm inputs to rice farmers.
The Ag Chief Officer for agriculture Mr. Alfred Ajulu said the department will put more money in farming with a purpose to manage water supply, introduce new varieties to be planted, extension services management, mechanization and pursuit of rice value chain. He also promised they would deal with challenges such as birds menace as a means of addressing food security for nutrition and commercial farming to improve the livelihood and downscale poverty levels as outlined in the Governor’s Manifesto.
The CEC Member for Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries Hon. Gilchrist Okuom on his part echoed the sentiments of others speakers urging the farmers to plant rice for nutrition and commercial purposes. He affirmed that through bench marking, technology and best practices the farmers have made a great stride.
He further urged them to build strong cooperatives that will help them market their produce. However he condemned in the strongest term the burning of one of the tractors by the locals and also cautioned farmers who do not pay for mechanization services. “Guard religiously the little we have” he stated.
The stakeholders who were present included: Mr Paul Omondi the Ward Admin, Jica, NITA, magos farm, Seed co, ETG, Banking institutions, Agrichem Africa, Health chemicals, Cooperative Societies from Ahero, Kano and Bunyala among many others.
The Stakeholders from Counties within the greater Nyanza met to review and consolidate the existing veterinary laws at the Tom Mboya labour college on Tuesday this week.
The three day workshop was supported by the national government, Kenya Market Trusts (KMT), USAID and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
It brought on board local famers, private practitioners, traders, County officials and the state department from the Livestock section with a focus on reviewing the laws in accordance to the Constitution 2010, OIE guidelines on veterinary legislation and the current best practices in Kenya and Internationally.
Reviewing of the laws is expected to address: effective and efficient management of Veterinary services, Human resource for the services, ensuring high quality services, funding for the services, and increasing accessibility to the services.
Giving his introductory remarks during the workshop, the CEC Member for Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries, Hon Gilchrist Okuom invited all participants to a fruitful deliberation that would revolutionize how we offer services legally within the sector.
On his part, Dr. Romano Kiome from ILRI who also represented the USAID, reiterated that the two organizations were proud to be part of the noble exercise, a right direction towards international service provision.” Think globally but act local” he said.
He further stated that government law is regulatory hence it improves service provision at both county and national level, therefore the participants were to ensure that the laws being reviewed facilitates business and emulate international best practices. However, he appealed to Counties to have qualified and competent human resource to do the work.
The Nyamira County CEC Member of agriculture Madam Peris Nyaboke Oroko who officially declared the workshop opened, said “we cannot meet objectives without a policy, with policy we have the right direction, guidelines and rules”. She also mentioned that public participation, transparency and accountability are key to policy issues and that its implementation require technocrats.
County department of Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries in collaboration with Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations (FAO) held a stakeholder forum, in a bid to integrate actions for innovative food systems actions across rural urban community projects.
The workshop held at Acacia Hotel on Tuesday this week, brought on board different stakeholders from the line of agriculture, KCB, individual farmers and farming groups such as Seke, Osiepe Practical group, Mazingira institute, Bondo University among others.
The objectives of the forum was to bring together the stakeholders and create synergy, know the activities they are engaged in, stakeholders commitment, establishing a policy orientation for Kisumu County on food systems, the potential of establishing multi- stakeholder platform and the challenges faced by the stakeholders.
Speaking during the official opening of the forum CEC Member for Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries, Mr. Gilchrist Okuom reiterated that the deliberations of the forum were key in changing the County’s Narrative from being net importers to producers.
“A net importer may not determine the quality and safety of the food produced”. Borrowing from the South African word Ubuntu translated as I am because you are, “such dependability will help us put food on our tables and manage the wastes that come from it,” said the Minister.
He further outlined some of the available opportunities that producers can exploit such as good infrastructure like roads, the International airport, Kisumu being the LREB Secretariat, and the revival of the port that connects Kisumu to both local and international markets.
The County Minister however, pointed out the plight of the unemployed youths as one of the challenges that going forward through such programs, the County will be able to tap into their potentials. He also affirmed his unwavering support by drafting a strategy paper that will guide resource allocation for agricultural projects.
On his part, Dr. Barack Okoba from FAO emphasized that resilience in community food production is key, that is knowing the food produced , its quality and safety standards is paramount. He further stated that early warning systems, access to certified seeds, capacity building farmers from production to post production and support for regulations on food safety standards are vital in building resilience.
There were presenters from line ministries on integrated urban food systems who included: Ag. Chief Officer for agriculture, Mr. Alfred Ajulu, Monica Oyanga, Rebecca Wanjiru and the moderator Mr. Erick Ogadho.
AgriFoSe2030, University of Nairobi and Mazingira Institute in collaboration with County department of Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries organized a two day workshop at Ikonia Hotel, Kisumu to deliberate on the development and implementation of urban agriculture (UA) policies in Nairobi, Kisumu, Thika and Nakuru.
The workshop focused on creating a framework for dialogue and discussions on the development of urban agriculture policies in the said towns and cities using the food systems approach.
The initiative is targeted to bring together stakeholders who include urban farmers, County agricultural and livestock officers, city planners, public health officers, trade organizations, traders, producers, researchers, NGO’s and service providers. This will create a forum to discuss issues on urban agriculture that will give insights to policy formulation.
According to scientific research findings, UA is a component of the urban food systems and that 20% of the urban population in Kisumu are engaged in urban agriculture. Generally, households engaged in urban agriculture have higher income which contributes about 36% to household income and the link between UA especially urban livestock production and food and nutrition security.
However urban farmers experience challenges emanating from lack of support from County Governments, substandard agricultural inputs such as seeds , livestock feed, health risks from both biological and chemical toxic sources
The CEC Member for Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries, Mr. Gilchrist Okuom in his address applauded the academicians and the stakeholders for taking up the initiative and that he was optimistic that the collaboration will help solve the challenges bedeviling the people of Kisumu.
He reiterated that due to fast rate of expansion in the City, rural practices are finding way into the urban centers, therefore there is need for a link transition of urban and rural dwellers and that the deliberations of the workshop will fill such gaps.
The Minister affirmed County’s commitment and political goodwill to the deliberations, thanking the partners for selecting Kisumu City for the programme since it will enable the people do things differently for better practices.
The Ag Chief Officer for agriculture Mr. Alfred Ajulu on his part was elated that Kisumu joined the selected towns and cities in creating a framework for dialogue that will inform the creation of a policy on urban agriculture and food systems set to address the challenges in agriculture like the issue of chemicals used.
He added that the expertise of a physical planner is key in addressing the issue of spatial planning in urban agriculture and that such regulations should be shared with the stakeholders. He also stated that the department is working on an urban food strategy.
The workshop being an agenda setting forum, there were presenters with rich academic insights on inputs on policy and research. They included: Dr. Diana Lee Smith of Mazingira Institute, Professor Willis Oluoch Kosura of Nairobi University, Davinda Lamba of Mazingira Institute, Professor Samuel Owuor of Nairobi University, Dr. Cecilia Onyango of Nairobi University, Dr. Samuel Onyango Omondi of Nairobi University and Mr. Isaac Dawo from County department of agriculture