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Technology holds Key to Kenya’s Agricultural Transformation

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By Adil Youseffi

Kenya’s agriculture sector has grown by 4.8% annually since 2012 with its share of GDP at 33% as of 2016. At the same time, while Kenya’s food deficit has decreased, it remains higher than sub-Saharan Africa and world averages.

With the ambitions of annual economic growth of 10%, food security was made a key part of Kenya’s Big Four agenda by the government.

Kenya has started making strides in this area by putting in place a 10-year Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (2019-2029). Priority is on the transformation of smallholder agriculture from subsistence to an innovative, commercially-orientated, and modern agricultural sector. Unfortunately, the impacts of coronavirus and movement restrictions imposed by the government will definitely cause disruptions in food production during and post COVID-19.

Although, technology and new digital tools can help farmers use precise amounts of inputs, identify distress in plants, as well as keep better control of their farm operations. Digital solutions are facilitating many businesses to make better decisions, and why should farmers not take advantage of that too.

Recognizing that technology has a role to play in this sector, the president a few years ago said the country would use science and technology to achieve inclusive agricultural growth, nutrition, and food security in the country.

I am sure that the right application of technology can be leveraged to address challenges like food security in current times and the future. For instance, the use of advanced devices and precision agriculture allows businesses to be more profitable, efficient, safer, and more environmentally friendly.

The Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem, comprising of sensors, connectivity, data analytics, workflow automation platforms and applications offers enormous promise to the continent in terms of addressing the challenges outlined above.

IoT offers huge potential in terms of enhancing agricultural productivity to meet food demand. Smart agriculture will utilize IoT-based technologies and solutions to boost operational efficiency, maximize yields and minimize wastage, thanks to real-time field data collection, data analysis, and deployment of control mechanisms.

A good example here is our work with Twiga farms. Liquid Telecom deployed a complete precision agriculture IoT system to improve farm productivity at Twiga’s Takuwa farm. The system includes four different types of agriculture sensors: a comprehensive weather station, soil moisture, and temperature probes, borehole water meters, and sensors for measuring irrigation water acidity and salinity.

The system takes advantage of Liquid Telecom’s expansive low-power, low-cost IoT network, which currently reaches 85% of the Kenyan population.

These sensors provide critical information to the Twiga agronomy team, helping to measure temperature, humidity, rainfall, and wind speed to give real-time data at the farm site. This helps the farm managers know the right farming approach to be applied, such as when to irrigate or apply pesticides.

Further, the water quality sensors provide specific metrics that help the team to optimize their fertilizer application.

Furthermore, Liquid Telecom has installed soil probes that measure moisture levels and temperature at 6 different depths into the soil, giving precise information of soil quality and irrigation needs at the roots of specific crops. This is set to improve farming methods at Takuwa farm and contribute towards the increase in crop yield for Twiga Foods.

In the long run, by using IoT-based soil monitoring systems, farmers will also be able to track and improve the quality of soil to avoid degradation and to minimize erosion, densification, salinization, acidification, and pollution by toxic elements.

This should significantly improve crop yields and help boost food security. Overall farmers no longer have to apply water, fertilizers, and pesticides uniformly across entire fields. Instead, they can use the minimum quantities required and target very specific areas, or even treat individual plants differently.

A similar approach can develop precision livestock farming, using the IoT to support real-time monitoring of productions, health, and welfare of livestock to ensure optimal yield. In line with this, we have deployed an IoT network in Western Kenya and Nyanza to monitor and protect freshwater fish populations. We connected ten pilot-phase sensors that monitor water temperature and pH values in ponds.

Farming has changed a lot over the last 50 years. Without a doubt, there are many advantages of using technology in agriculture which include higher productivity, decreased use of water, fertilizer, and pesticides, which in turn keeps food prices down and reduced impact on the natural ecosystem.

Amongst all the above advantages, I am also sure that the use of new and innovative technologies in agriculture will make the sector attractive to youth thereby helping reduce unemployment & reducing migration to cities. In a nutshell, technology will allow farmers and their families to be more economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable.

The author is the Regional CEO, East Africa Liquid Telecom

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Opinion

ANC Expels Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala

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The governing council of the Amani National Congress (ANC) on Friday approved the expulsion of Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala from the party.

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala has been expelled by the Amani National Congress (ANC) for misconduct.

The governing council of the party led by Kenya’s former Vice President (VP) Musalia Mudavadi the recommendations and approved Malala’s expulsion.

The party’s disciplinary committee had in November last year suspended and summoned Senator Malala to appear and respond to charges made against him during an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party rally.

“…your utterances, and activities at the political rally convened by the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) at Kibra on October 27, 2019, prejudiced the integrity and reputation of the ANC Party, its members, and employees,” the committee told the legislator.

Senator Malala however failed to respond to the charges and refused to appear before the committee to defend himself hence their decision to expel him.

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Opinion

Innocent Mutiso: We can’t let our football back to its dark days

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By Innocent Mutiso

Nyamweya has been at loggerheads with every federation since when he first lost the chairmanship to Maina Kariuki in early 2000, he thought that everyone else was doing it wrong and he can do it right.

When finally, he was given the chance and elected chairman, he didn’t do better than the predecessors he was fighting.

I decided to call during his interview with Carol Radull to confront him because he was clearly dishonest and lying blatantly to the thousands of football followers.

He said I was partisan as an employee of the federation being the chairman of the union even campaigning openly for Nick which is a total lie and he did not bully me even after the audio being played for him. First of all, KEFWA is an independent member of the federation and not employees of the federation. Secondly as a delegate according to the FKF electoral code then and now, KEFWA can endorse any candidate for the presidential seat. He threatened to disband KEFWA, the players union who in his manifesto says he will work closely with.

He said in the manifesto and also in the interview that he will build youth structures yet when he was chairman there were no youth structures, right now we have under 13 national team, under 15 national team, under 17 national team and u20 national team who have known coaches in every category, where from under 13 there is progression to the next age group that shows consistency which is very vital in football, all these were lacking during his tenure.

He said he will work with former footballers yet during his term, he threatened the footballers body president, banned former internationals Sammy Shollei and Dan Shikanda and even had a spat with ex Captain Denis Oliech whom in an interview said even if journalists fear Nyamweya he doesn’t and he will speak about how players were handled badly in Senegal and Libya yet when I confronted him about this he said it’s his office that banned the two.

All the contract disputes that are haunting the federation now can all be traced to his tenure, from Ghost Mulee, the late Henri Michel, Bobby Williamson and Adel Amrouche. Since 2016, there have been no contractual issues in court with coaches which means a lot has changed.

When asked about the MP and Silva deal that went up in smoke and why there were two premier leagues in 2015, he dodged both question and answered he is the one who gave KPL the MOU to run the league, yet we all know and I told him in the phone call that it needed the intervention of FIFA so that KPL runs the league without interference.

Feeling trapped in a corner he said that I was attacking him everywhere because am allied to Nick, yet all my questions and confrontational words are in the public domain but due to his intimidating ways, then and now. No one has ever dared question him, the two who did were Sammy Sholei and Dan Shikanda, whom he banned, so everyone used to fear him.

Nyamweya is not someone to be trusted with the youth aspiring to be footballers after he chased away Sakata Ball tournament, which was to be sponsored by Safaricom, because he wanted “administration” fee of 20% of the total money. Now, Sakata ball came back in Mwendwa’s tenure as Chapa Dimba and the branches are empowered while the youth are getting opportunities with the return.

The women’s league is now vibrant and progressive than it was before and consistency in the starlets in all age groups.

He said the success that both the women’s team and the men’s national enjoying now he was the model and he shaped them, yet during his time there were strikes left right and centre because of unpaid allowances. Since the new regime came in, there have been no sit ins over unresolved allowances.

Most important of all Nyamweya had no Secretariat, right now we have a fully fledged secretariat, anything football can be found at Kandanda house.

Innocent Mutiso is former president of Kenya Footballers Welfare Association (KEFWA)

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Opinion

OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNOR MIKE MBUVI SONKO

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By Mark Muriuki

Your Excellency clearly the Deep State is back again, *with a negative headline every day about you in their propaganda mouthpiece, the Nation Media Group.*

The question is, what is this that they are planning for Round Two?

As it stands, they are conditioning the public again as they did between August and December last year before your arrest.

I keep wondering what role Mr. President is playing in all this, and the two NIS officers assigned to you.

Because, *if they were genuine about helping you, they would not be creating problems for you in the first place and then pretend to be helping!* It is dishonest, and an indicator that they are all working for your downfall as they manage you. Also there are some statehouse senior officials who pretend to be helping you but they are just assigned to manage you.

1. They planned your arrest then pretended to come and bail you out with raising 15m cash bail immedietely you were charged.

2. They *took away your security* and haven’t returned it 5 months later but replaced it with NIS senior officers attached at statehouse. Even the other week, they wanted to take away the City Inspectorate officers assigned to you.

3. They designed a *WICKED* Deed of Transfer to finish you. Your statehouse friends and the two NIS officers attached to you knew about it, and they NEVER told you anything until you were ambushed.

4. An illegal Supplementary Budget meant to make you a ceremonial Governor was designed, discussed, passed and even gazetted under their watch, and they did nothing!

5. The worst part is, they were forcing you to withdraw your Memorandum *even without reading it*

6. Illegalities have continued to be committed, from the Head of Public Service, the Public Service Commission, KRA, the National Police Service to the National Treasury and all departments, and they are DOING NOTHING about it all. KRA now purports to open revenue accounts without involving the CEC for Finance, an illegality which is being perpetuated with wanton impunity yet they are mere agents just like Jambo Pay.

7. Your efforts to fumigate Nairobi, install sanitization booths, giving free masks and sanitizers and donate food to needy families have been frustrated for *over a month now* and they have done nothing.

8. They have revived the impeachment discussion after you threatened to pull out of the Deed of Transfer but do not be intimidated just keep on fighting you die like soldier.

*Your Excellency, are these people telling us that Kibicho, Kamanda, Elachi and their group are more powerful than the President?*

I don’t believe so. They fully know what they are doing, and they wish to continue entertaining you, to manage you as they slowly finish you Sir.

*This is my take Sir. They are determined either to get you out of office prematurely, or if that doesn’t succeed, they will do anything possible to prevent you from running for office in 2022.*

Given the above, you have two options:

1. Go full throttle in terminating the Deed. This way, they will revive your case, and introduce new ones, but you have the law and the people on your side. You will also be able to form new political alliances.

2. Because Kenyans are on your side and now know the truth that you are being forced out of office so that Uhuru and his family can take over Nairobi. Your option two just resign, because the President is the one who is against you and since he’s going to retirement, your future political career is in jeopardy.

Nairobi was not failed as they have been trying to lie to Kenyans, the first two years in office you achieved so many positive things including winning international awards no wonder Kinyua did not allow you to read your speech at Statehouse the day you were signing the Deed of transfer.

Please take my advice accordingly and act in the best interests of Nairobi voters, your supporters and the Supreme law of the country.

Yours truly;
Mark Muriuki, Nairobi political analyst

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