World Bank to aid technology-led transformation of Kenya's agriculture sector

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-06 00:23:12|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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NAIROBI, April 5 (Xinhua) -- The World Bank has partnered with Kenya's ministry of agriculture to facilitate deployment of digital platforms that can be harnessed by small-holder farmers to boost crop yield, officials said on Friday.

Dina Umali-Deininger, World Bank's agriculture global practice manager for central, eastern and southern African region said availing technologies and innovations to Kenyan smallholders will help them tackle bottlenecks that undermine productivity.

"We hope that technologies like mobile phones will help farmers' access inputs like seeds and fertilizers, markets and knowledge on how they can improve their yield," said Umali-Deininger.

She spoke on the sidelines of the Disruptive Agricultural Technology conference underway in Nairobi that is sponsored by the World Bank and a consortium of global research entities.

The two-day conference that will culminate in award of seed capital to Kenyan start-ups that have revolutionized small-holder farming through deployment of novel innovations is being attended by policymakers, innovators and entrepreneurs.

Umali-Deininger revealed that the World Bank in conjunction with Kenya's ministries of agriculture and ICT plan to embed uptake of digital platforms in the One Million Farmer Initiative that will be implemented in the next three years across 45 counties.

"The digital platforms we are supporting will provide solutions to one million small holder farmers in Kenya grappling with challenges around productivity, post-harvest storage, market access and financial inclusion," said Umali-Deininger.

She disclosed that ten outstanding agri-tech entrepreneurs who will receive grants totaling 100 million shillings (about 1 million U.S. dollars) will be incorporated in two World Bank's financed projects to boost small-holders' productivity in the East Africa's largest economy.

"Basically, we are focusing on scaling up access to disruptive technologies that can make farming more productive, climate resilient and rewarding to small-holders," said Umali-Deininger.

Kenya commands the lion share of Africa's agritech entrepreneurship space thanks to friendly regulatory environment, supportive infrastructure and abundance of tech-savvy youth.

Parmesh Shah, World Bank's lead rural development specialist for the African region said the lender will partner with the government and investors to create a robust agricultural innovations ecosystem in Kenya.

"We are optimistic that a stronger partnership with the government and private sector will boost deployment of innovations to the doorstep of smallholder farmers," said Parmesh.

He said that access to disruptive technologies will boost the capacity of small-holder farmers to manage water resources, improve soil health and respond effectively to crop pests and diseases.