Greenpeace Africa has today handed over a petition to the Agricultural Committee of the Machakos County Assembly. The petition comes after a policy dialogue that was aimed at strengthening interactions between the policymakers; county officials in charge of agriculture and food security; farmers who practice sustainable agriculture and Greenpeace Africa.
The petition, signed by over 50 farmer representatives from different sub counties in Machakos County outlined key asks and recommendations.
“Local governments are failing farmers by pushing for industrial agriculture. The recent sugar scandal speaks volume of a failed food system that not only puts power in the hands of a few corporates, but also neglects the very person that feeds the nation- the smallholder farmer,” said Frederick Njehu, Greenpeace Africa’s Senior Political Advisor.
The solution to address food insecurity in the county lies within its borders. With the right support, smallholder farmers, who contribute 75% of total agricultural production, can feed Kenyans with healthy and nutritious food that is grown ecologically. Ecological farming is not a new practice; it combines local farmers’ knowledge with the most recent scientific research to increase yields without negatively impacting the environment. Some of the smallholder farmers in Machakos County are already practising it and are able to defy challenges of climate change which are compounded by the arid and semi arid conditions.
“The smallholders farmers in Machakos have the potential to make the county the breadbasket of Ukambani region. With the right guidance from the county government, these farmers who are mostly women could contribute more towards food security in Kenya,’’ continued Njehu.
Agricultural productivity in Machakos is generally constrained by a number of factors – among them high cost of inputs such as chemical fertilizers, pesticides and hybrid seeds. Limited extension services, over-dependence on rainfed agriculture and lack of markets are other challenges.
To address the ongoing challenges, the Machakos county government needs to urgently shift funds away from industrial agriculture and support ecological farming. Such an action will increase farmers’ income, build resilience and empower local farmers. This will break the cycle of dependency on large quantities of chemical fertilisers and pesticides and address the multiple challenges facing small-scale producers.
“We call on the Machakos County government to put in place policies that promote small scale farming and ensure sufficient budgetary allocation towards supporting ecological farming,” concluded Njehu.