KENYA – Millet and Sorghum farmers in the Eastern part of Kenya now want the government to facilitate the provision of mechanized tools to ease the harvesting of their produce to reduce losses.

The farmers made the appeal during celebrations marking the “World Food Day 2023” at the KALRO Kiboko Research Centre in Makueni County.

According to them, harvesting challenges are limiting the majority of farmers to venture into indigenous cereals cultivation despite the crops doing well in the area.

They expressed optimism that the of harvesting the indigenous grains will not only on the cost of post-harvest losses but also attract youthful farmers who were discouraged from venture in the production system.

They urged the government to consider getting farmers combined harvesters for the crops so that many youths could get interested in embracing the production of the cereals.

They lauded this year’s theme “Water is life, water is food. Leave no one behind” stating that it was time such interventions were applied to promote food security in areas with below-average rainfall.

A timely call

Esther Ndunge, Africa Harvest Biotechnology Foundation International (Africa Harvest) representative said that the call was timely as it comes at a time when 2023 was declared the “International Year of the Millets.”

According to her, this group of hardy cereal grains, such as sorghum, finger millet, and pearl millet, has garnered increasing recognition for their potential to revolutionize the approach to food production, nutrition, and climate resilience.

“These resilient crops hold the key to thriving in water-scarce conditions, making them perfectly suited to this year’s theme,” she said

She added that Africa Harvest has been Scaling Commercialization of the Drought Tolerant Crops Technologies program popularly referred to as the DTC 4 Youth Jobs Creation program.

In Kenya, she noted, the program implemented by the Mastercard Foundation in partnership with ICRISAT, and KUZA One, leverages a comprehensive value chain integration strategy, providing opportunities for young Kenyans in agriculture offering the most promising avenue for sustainable employment for the youth.

“We are focusing on eight key agricultural value chains, including sorghum, finger millet, pearl millet, groundnuts, pigeon pea, green grams, poultry, and fish, along with mechanization”, she said.

Ndunge added that the value chains span ten counties in western and eastern Kenya, targeting over 150,000 young individuals offering hope and opportunity to the next generation, particularly in the face of unpredictable weather patterns.

According to Africa Harvest, millets and other resilient crops hold the promise of a nourished future and can ensure that no one is left behind on the journey towards a hunger-free world and Ndunge urged all to reflect on the vital connection between water and food, and the potential of millets to transform the world.