A majority of Kenyan small-scale farmers lack farm inputs and accessibility to markets, putting food availability in jeopardand making life hard for farmers a study has shown.
According to the study conducted by Agricultural Policy Research in Africa, 23 to 30 per cent of respondents said they had decreased participation in farming due to Covid-19.
There was also restricted access to markets for agricultural produce due to Covid-19. “About a third of respondents reported a decrease in the availability of farm inputs, while over half (51 per cent) reported that the price of inputs had increased,” states the report.
Thirty-two per cent of respondents) reported a decrease in the supply of fertilisers, certified seeds, agrochemicals, and veterinary drugs.
And about 58 per cent were not able to hire labour and a good number of small-scale farmers reduced their farming activities (22 per cent) and off farm business activities (37 per cent) due to Covid-19.
“The ability to access farm gate and local markets to sell produce decreased for 31 to 47 per cent of respondents,” states the report, which also shows that there was a sharp decline in the number of traders going to the villages to buy food.
“The research showed that Covid-19 has not only reduced food availability, but has also increased levels of malnutrition especially in urban slums,” said Dr Hannington Odame, a policy research expert, and one of the authors of the report.
According to the study, over 40 per cent of the farmers reported reduced availability of fruits and vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds, and white roots and tubers in local markets, while over one third observed a decrease in the supply of grains, processed foods and fish and seafood.
Also, over 40 per cent stated that prices increased for most food items, while nearly 90 per cent of households did not have adequate food and 97 per cent reported that their cost of living had gone up since the Covid-19 restrictions came into effect.
“The effect of Covid-19 on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) One and Two is going to be profound,” said Dr Odame.
SDG One aims to eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere by 2030.
On the other hand, SDG Two envisions ending hunger by 2030 and ensuring access by all people.