Kenya has launched a farmers information service where t he country’s farming community will now be able to receive and exchange timely news and information on agriculture, weather patterns and other related issues through their mobile phones.
The pilot project of the service was launched Monday in Kiambu, near Nairobi by the country’s assistant minister for agriculture Japeth Mbiuki at a ceremony attended by Swedish Ambassador Anna Brandt, who announced that her government will, this financial year, extend a Kenya shillings 3.5 billion grant to the eastern African country as development assistance. (US$1 = 66.50 Kshs)
The funds, according to Brandt, will be channeled to the roads, health, water and sanitation, agriculture and urban development sectors while some will fund democracy and human rights initiatives.
The official challenged the international community to provide more assistance and encourage incentives for the agricultural sector in developing countries in order to attain sustainable and broad-based pro-poor growth.
She regretted that food prices have soared worldwide at large mainly due to low agricultural productivity in developing countries adding that in Kenya, the problem was worsened by post-election violence which affected many farmers.
Brandt therefore advised the Kenyan government to double its effort in boosting the agricultural productivity by implementing the necessary conducive policies.
The authorities could also set up facilitative institutions, increase the budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector and urgently address the land problem.
She promised Sweden would continue supporting the country in realising the importance of food security, inequality and health of the Kenyan population and at the same time help strengthen democracy and human rights.
Brandt described the launching of National Farmers Information Service as a “milestone” adding that it will enable farmers and other interested parties to receive timely agriculture information through their mobile phones.
To ensure the sustainability of the service, the envoy called on the government to set aside some funds for it and also to develop modalities for attracting the participation of the private sector through cost sharing.