NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 3 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has called on research institutions to provide expert information to farmers for the purposes of improving crop and livestock production, land use management and biodiversity conservation.
Mr Odinga has emphasised that research is important in providing knowledge and creative solutions to farmers to enhance agricultural production and alleviate poverty.
"We are fighting against hunger as a result of drought, and only modern farming through planting drought resistant crops can help us," he said.
He said modern technology was key to addressing challenges facing farmers not only in this country but in the African region as a whole.
The PM spoke on Wednesday at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) after visiting the institution accompanied by the Tanzanian Prime Minister Mizengo Peter Pinda.
The PM thanked KARI for continuing to provide timely and quality expert advisory services for the efficient utilisation of land resources in this region.
The Tanzanian PM called for additional resource allocation to the agricultural sector as agriculture remains the economic backbone of all the East African countries. He said that there was need for political will for agriculture to succeed and alleviate food shortage in Africa.
Mr Mizengo Pinda regretted that most farmers in the region remained poor even after more than forty years of independence because little preference is given to this sector. “Our budgets should be focused in this area if any success should be realised," he said.
"Most of our people especially in the agricultural sector are still peasant farmers forty years after independence because not enough resources have been allocated in this area," the Premier added.
Mr Pinda called for joint research by institutions in the region to avoid duplication and for realisation of better results, adding that this should be captured within the East African co-operation protocol.
He said that lack of accurate and balanced information on biotechnology by most stakeholders has brought about concerns and fear about this technology.
Mr Pinda said lack of understanding has led to criticism of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) but called for awareness creation strategy that should address s this gap.
The Tanzanian PM said that slow adoption of such scientific innovations by African countries will seriously affect food security in the continent.