The Ministry of Agriculture has expressed concern over the decline in food production forcing the country to import nearly all basic food to meet rising demand.
According to the ministry, the sector was on a downward trend from 5.4 per cent in 2013 to 1.6 per cent in 2017.
The decline has been attributed to drought, limited land for farming, low and declining soil fertility, high prices of fertilizer and pesticides and emergence of new pests.
According to a director in the ministry Dr Margaret Makelo, the country was currently importing nearly all basic commodities to meet the rising demand.
Among the products that were being imported included wheat, maize, rice, beans, potatoes and sugar according to her.
“The emerging challenges have led to high cost of production and this has been worsened by the high level of poverty leading to low purchasing power,” she said.
Makelo noted that the crisis in the sector had been worsened by rural-urban migration with youths moving to towns in search of employment opportunities.
“As a result of the mass migration by the youths, farming has been left to senior members of the society who are aged 50 years and above,” she said.
The director was speaking at KALRO offices in Naivasha during a workshop on Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Cropping Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA).
On the project, Makelo noted that KALRO was partnering with other stakeholders where over 1.3m farmers were expected to benefit.
“SIMLESA research has been able to demonstrate evidence-based policy lessons and scaling approaches that can reverse food and nutrition insecurities across the continent,” she said.
KARLO Director-General Dr Eliud Kireger said that the project had been sponsored by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research.
He noted that the attainment of food and nutrition in the country remained a challenge due to weather vagaries, which had resulted in droughts and flooding.
“This phenomenon has led to high costs of inputs, high global prices and currently over 815m people worldwide are affected by hunger,” he said.
On his part, Dr Stephen Mugo from International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) said that there was the need to mechanize agriculture for improved production.
“We have already introduced various maize and wheat varieties to farmers and they have been received positively and we need more policies of food production,” he said.