Farming industry involves the practice of keeping animals and growing of crops for raw materials and food.
Farming started many years ago. It’s believed that domestication of animals and growing of crops begun in the fertile crescent along the Nile Valley in Egypt and Mesopotamia.
Farming industry has not been a walk in the park. It has been faced with challenges since time immemorial. There have been factors affecting farming industry and among them include:
- Lack of subsidies to farmers enabling them to have access to affordably priced inputs like seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. This increases the cost of production minimizing profits.
- Inadequate capital limiting farmers to buy appropriate farm inputs and provision of labour to improve their farming practices.
- Commodity prices fluctuation making farmers experience losses thus discouraging their farming practices.
- Unreliable markets of their produce. This encourage wastage and tremendous loss.
- Labour has become intensive, increasing the production making so expensive to undertake.
- Lack of education and information to farmers. This has led to poor farming practices like selection of seeds regarding to their geographical requirements and use of manures, pesticides and herbicides for optimum production.
- Crop pest and pathogens interfere with the growth causing damage. The interference and damage result in the failure of crops to reach their genetic potential reducing expected yields.
- Unfavorable climatic conditions like excessive rains and temperatures lead to low crop yields. Excessive temperatures may lead to drought thus crop dries up while excessive rains may lead to flooding resulting to crop damage
In order to avert the above mentioned challenges facing farming industry some advanced measures need to be put in place.
This may include:
- The government should provide agricultural subsidies to farmers and influence the costs and supply of such commodities. For example, farm inputs like fertilizers, seeds, herbicides and pesticides should be made available and affordable to farmers with realistic prices.
- Access to finances for farmers is an important condition for change. Accessible and affordable loans to farmers will enable them to improve their practises.i.e. buy inputs and hire labour. Some financial institutions like Tower SACCO have introduced Agri-business loans to help farmers realize their dreams.
- To ensure marketing is solved, rural infrastructure should be improved to ensure produce reach market timely without going bad. Price fixing and eradicating the middle-man who exploits farmers should also be put in place.
- Access to proper information to farmers by increasing the number of extension services through agricultural officers to visit farmers and advise them accordingly.
- The problem of pests and diseases in the farming industry can be checked by building health soil which will provide a home of a friendly insects and help prevent many plant diseases. Planting of resistant varieties of crops and planting at the right time and use of the right pesticides and herbicides will assist to solve this problem.
- Farmers should commit themselves to climate friendly practices and management systems such as Agro-ecology or Agro-forestry. Agro-forestry practices can reduce agricultural demand for water during dry periods, wind breaks reduce crop water stress and conserve soil moisture by reducing wind speed across adjacent crop fields thereby reducing evaporation from soil and transpiration by crops. This will enable crops thrive even in unfavorable climate.
If the solutions to the factors affecting farming industry are put in place the industry will be robust and achievements realized.
Compiled by: Joel Kamau Mugwe