The sudden escalating temperatures in Kenya have had a disastrous effect on crops. Besides the thousands who are currently grappling with hunger, Small Medium Enterprises (SME) farmers have suffered the scourge of the unreliable weather patterns.
Currently, less than 2 percent of Kenya’s arable land is under irrigation, making most SME farmers who are dependent on rain-fed farming vulnerable to water scarcity. For a vast majority of the population that depends on these farmers for food, their food security is at risk.
In addition to the shifting weather patterns, water scarcity in Kenya is also aggravated by water users who over exploit water and forestry resources, to the detriment of the environment.
A dramatic improvement in water use efficiency can, however, be achieved with a range of high-value crops through better irrigation scheduling and the use of small-scale drip irrigation technologies that have the potential to save water by 45 percent, while improving yields by 35 percent.
Hivos’ new project, Smart water for agriculture, aims to increase food security in Kenya by optimizing water technology and improving agricultural practices that are adapted to the Kenyan context. By targeting 5,000 SME farmers, the project will generate innovative mechanisms to improve access to finance Micro-Irrigation Systems (MIS) from credit providers. In addition, farmers will be trained to operate the MIS using sufficient water to increase their yields.
The MIS+ package will provide farmers with capital investments through loans, infrastructure to improve irrigation and agricultural practices on the farm and market linkages to sell produce. The package will also incorporate the use of mobile platforms such as Equitel and Airtel to provide continuous and interactive technical support to farmers.
- Improving water use efficiency and agricultural productivity;
- Offering viable credit mechanisms that are easily accessible to SME farmers;
- Promoting improved water use efficiency and agricultural productivity by private sector service providers and government institutions.
Hivos has a long track record in project management, promotion of agriculture, environment and development activities within the East African region to foster a more inclusive and equitable society that is capable of sustaining livelihoods through technology and innovation.