EUGENE JERNIGAN, September 14 2015

Devolution has brought about a wide range of opportunities and challenges in the county governments.

The development plan in Kenya is asymmetric, with wide gaps of inequalities and a large population sinking into poverty.

Small-scale farmers in the counties are facing numerous challenges. Hence proper agricultural, climate change and trade policies must be mainstreamed and implemented at the county level.

It is not uncommon for small-scale farmers to frequently ask for money from their relatives in the cities to buy fertilisers, seeds and plough land every planting season.

Climate change and vagaries of trade have deprived these farmers of a decent living resulting to their abandoning of agriculture and livestock-keeping as a means of livelihood as well as migrating to urban areas.

Lack of co-ordination at the county level needs to be addressed to avert food insecurity, malnutrition, poverty and mortality.

Concerted efforts are needed from the counties to help small-scale farmers adapt to climate change and reduce vulnerability and negative impacts in agriculture.


There is also need to support farmers to acquire and implement agricultural knowledge, science and technology to capture the economies of scale in production.

Agricultural and livestock produce, horticultural farming, fisheries, bee-keeping and other resources that benefit farmers in the counties should not be left to cartels and middlemen.

Sugarcane and cashew nuts farming, fishing, water catchment areas and tourist attractions are some of the examples of commodities and resources that are capable of wealth creation for farmers.

The counties need to jealously guard their natural resources and agricultural potential.

They must come up with a sustainable work plan in their policy documents that will empower and build the capacity of small-scale farmers.

The early warning system from the Meteorological Department should be an integral part of adapting to climate change. Each county must build large storage facilities to cushion farmers from price fluctuations and wastage.

The county governments must empower small-scale farmers in pest control, water and soil management, natural resource conservation and, most importantly, increase access to land.

The devolved governments need to engage the central government to eradicate poverty in their regions.

The writer works for Centre for International Trade, Economics and Environment in Nairobi

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