Tapping Into The Agricultural Potential of Kitui County
The agriculture sub sector is one of the main drivers of Kenya Vision 2030 since it contributes more than 24 percent to the country’s GDP thus contributing to almost 80 percent of employment in the country. This sector contributes to almost 40 percent of the governments revenue and more than 60 percent of the total export revenue while feeding the country.
For meaningful development to take place, food security has to be addressed. This is why the County of Kitui is striving towards achieving this mission through creating supportive policy and legal environment for agriculture development and also collaborating with all stakeholders.
Some of the strategies being put in place include scaling up of extension services and training of farmers, promotion of food security programmes, enhancing farm mechanization to reduce incidences of late land preparation and planting.
Farmers in Kitui County grow both food and cash crops for subsistence and income generation. The total area under food crops in the is estimated to be 292,830 hectares while that of cash crop to be 6,520 hectares, with 62,170 hectares under farm forestry. The average farm size is 4.38 hectares for small scale crop farming and 50 hectares for large scale crop farming.
Small scale farming is practiced in densely populated parts of the county like Kitui central and Mwingi central constituencies. The large-scale farming is practiced in the rest of the constituencies in the county. There are 10 gazetted forests and 10 non–gazetted forests, totaling to about 188,000 ha of forest in Kitui County, under different ownership. The forest cover is crucial for climate change boosting agriculture in the county.
The county is also in the process of introducing new farming methods as well as fish farming, promotion of drought tolerant and high value crops and fruit trees, as well as promoting water harvesting for small-scale irrigation to improve production.
With such developments in place, there will be increased productivity of all crops and enhanced agribusiness and value addition before the produce is taken to the market which will in turn reduce post-harvest wastage and increase farmers’ incomes.
Efforts will be made to promote market access and product development by encouraging group commodity marketing of farm produce and dairy products and eventually promotion of formation of a co-operative movement to assist farmers in selling their produce and procuring farm inputs in bulk to reduce cost of farm inputs. Efforts will also be made to promote sustainable land use, water resources and environmental conservation.