By Nuru Ahmed

Switch Africa Green (SAG) is in the continent to support seven countries including Kenya, Uganda, Bukina Faso, Ghana, Mauritius and South Africa. The SAG program is taking place from the year 2021-2127 in support of Agriculture, the Manufacturing sector, Tourism and waste management in the mentioned countries.

The SAG is an EU funded pilot program implemented by United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) in collaboration with United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), which has been developed to support African countries.

In Kenya, the SAG is focusing mainly on three products; coffee, mango and dairy farming. The program is to promote Agriculture, Manufacturing sector, Tourism and Waste management.

The aim is to transit to an inclusive green economy by promoting a shift to sustainable consumption and production practices. Farmers are encouraged to invest in these sectors to boost their economic production.

The good sounding news to farmers was revealed during a conference held at World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya. The conference theme dubbed:  “Green to Grow”.

Dr Patrick Mwesigye, the Regional Coordinator, Resource Efficiency and SCP Sub-Program United Nations Environment Program Africa (UNEP) said:  “To alleviate poverty among farmers in Africa, agricultural finance cooperation should be considered, farmers need to be trained on equity management so that they learn to budget their profits and losses.”

Dr Mwesigye emphasized that Agriculture also offers opportunities in mitigating climate change and helps farmers particularly smallholders. This is by developing their economies hit hardest by harsh weather especially erratic rainfall.

The Regional Coordinator, also added that financial working groups should address the challenges in Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs).He also noted that to achieve SDGs, their is need to work with SMEs.

The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and its implementing partner Kenya Agribusiness Agroindustry Alliance (KAAA) are some of the Grantees of this project in Kenya.

 “I encourage farmers in East African countries to grow coffee, mangoes and practice dairy farming and produce organic food that is suitable for human consumption,” Dr Mwesigye reiterated.

He challenged farmers to promote natural food for both local and international markets which hold more than 400 people.

Currently, 99% of coffee that is produced in Kenya is exported to international markets unlike in Ethiopia where 50% of the coffee is consumed in their country.

However, SMEs should be trained on how to handle farming and agriculture generally in a different way. Innovation brings change into farming. The young generation should be involved in farming activities. 62% of SMEs have acquired practices on how to increase their sales.

Peter K. Ngovi an organic mango fruit producer at his Kids farm located in Machakos-Kenya said “mango farming has raised my lifestyle from earning little money to large amounts of money.”

“I have managed to take my children to school through mango sales. I have also built my own house and living a happy life.” Ngovi

Mango best adapt to warm tropical monsoon climate with a pronounced dry season of more than 3 months followed by rains. However, information from other countries indicates that crops cultivated for a long time over an extended area, show a high degree of diversity due to varied environmental influences.

Economic Importance of Mangoes include; consumed as fresh fruits, source of income, source of foreign exchange, source of employment and combats nutritional disorders.

Mangoes grown in Kenya include Apple, Ngowe, Kent, Keitt, Tommy Artkins, Van Dyke, Haden, Sensation, Boribo, Sabine among others. Main characteristics that differentiate varieties are the fruit shape, size, aroma, sweetness, color, fiber content, taste, seed size and resistance to diseases.

James Kariuki is a prominent farmer in the coffee growing belt of Kibugu, Embu County, where his mastery in coffee farming has earned him fortune and fame. From the proceeds of hard and smart work, Kariuki has since bought two different parcels of land.

 “I bought a piece of land and built a house currently I am shopping for a car,” Kariuki disclosed.  All the achievements are from his coffee cash.

Owing to his prowess in coffee production, Kariuki has teamed up with 14 other farmers from Mt Kenya region for Organic Coffee Farmers group. They now work closely with Coffee Research Foundation and local agronomists to help members realize high productivity in their farms.

James Kariuki said, “Many cast their doubt when he claims he harvests 100kgs of coffee from a single stem. But a visit to his farm verifies his claim.” 

Kenya’s dairy sub sector contributes about 8% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with an annual milk production of 3.43 billion liters. Kenyan milk production is 3% of the 18% global production by Sub Saharan Africa.

Dairy cattle population is estimated at 4.3 million kept under extensive, semi- intensive and intensive systems of production. Dairy cattle in Kenya consist of exotic breeds, crosses between exotic and local breeds and local breeds.

Although smallholder Dairy farmers make up to 80% of total dairy producers and produce 56% of total milk in Kenya, they are constrained by low quantity and quality of feeds, lack of reliable statistical information on milk market outlets, poor rural infrastructure, lack of collateral for loans, low technical skills on husbandry practices, reduced access to veterinary and artificial insemination (AI) services.