Farming in COVID-19 Times
The March-April-May long rains season coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya. The pandemic has disrupted the agriculture supply chain in a manner of ways. Border closures and restrictions of movement have impacted negatively on transportation of farm inputs, harvested farm produce, livestock destined to local and international markets, and processed food. Reduced hours of operation and closure of food service establishments such as restaurants and schools have reduced the demand for agricultural produce. Reduced production and processing of agricultural produce for fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus by those involved in the agriculture supply chain is likely to hamper food security in the country. As a result, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries called upon farmers to intensify their farming activities in order to ensure a steady supply of food to Kenyans during the pandemic. Other agriculture stakeholders in the food supply chain have been tasked with ensuring timely availability of farming inputs such as seeds and fertilizers as well as providing extension support, storage, processing, transportation, value addition and marketing. In addition to these measures, the Ministry has developed COVID-19 protocols and guidelines that sector actors in the agri-food supply chain should adhere to.
Farmers in Meru and Kajiado County took the call by the Ministry to intensify their farming activities seriously. Some implemented practices aired on the radio by Thiiri FM and Bus Radio in Meru and Kajiado Counties respectively. Their stories are highlighted in our recent half-year report for the year 2020 under Kilimo Media’s partnership with the Sygenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.