The government has launched the One Million Kitchen Gardens Plan which targets households across the country by enabling them to set up kitchen gardens to deal with the looming food crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The program will be rolled out in partnership with selected counties.
The Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives Ann Nyaga says the aim is to ensure diet improvement by making sure the households have access to fruits, vegetables and herbs which is expected to boost their immunity. The CAS was speaking at Kasikeu in Makueni County where she was accompanied by Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana to launch the programme.
Each household chosen for the initiative will receive a startup kit consisting of a tank with a capacity of 50 litres and a shade net. The kit will also have 10gms seeds of various vegetables including amaranthus, kales, black nightshade, cowpeas and spinach. Kshs. 1,350 will be used for one kit translating to Kshs. 1.35 billion for the one million kits. Nyaga said that plans are at an advanced stage to set up the first 400,000 kits and urged well-wishers to support the government to accomplish the programme.
Identifying the households to benefit will be done together with the county governments with each county expected recruit between 6,000 to 20,000 households depending on the needs.
Priority will be given to poor households with large families, households with single parents, widowers and widows. The youth will also receive kitchen garden kits specially reserved for them where they will raise seedlings for income generation. The CAS said there was a need to empower the youth hence they will benefit from drying tools and training.
According to the CAS, a number of vertical farming technologies to set up the kitchen gardens will be applied. They include hanging gardens, multi-storey gardens, staircase gardens, cone gardens, aquaponics etc.
Noting that the pandemic had led to the loss of jobs in the informal sector, the CAS said that the kitchen gardens will also serve as a source of income to households that will produce more than what they can consume. To reduce wastage as vegetables are perishable, solar driers will be supplied with each having a capacity to dry 10 kgs of vegetables per hour. Each solar drier will serve 10 households. “This will help maintain social distancing as there will be fewer visits to the market,” said Nyaga
Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana said at least 15,000 households in Makueni will benefit from the programme adding that initiative is a key economic recovery strategy which will also improve incomes, nutrition and immunity of citizens. He added that the Makueni county government will spread the initiative further beyond the current scope through its agriculture department to reach more households.