How agriculture has changed with time in Kenya….
If you ask your grandparents how they got their food, they might have a different answer than you think. Why is this? It’s because agriculture has changed throughout history.
Today, majority of Kenyan farmers have adopted the use of technology to make advances in producing food that we consume. Farmers are using technologies such as motorized equipment, modified housing for animals and biotechnology, which allow for improvement in agriculture. Better technology has allowed farmers to feed more people and requires fewer people to work on farms to feed their families.
Also, today the agriculture industry has transformed into a high-tech enterprise. With advanced equipment and machinery in the agricultural sector, there is a certain amount of market capitalisation taking place.
Changes in equipment have made a large impact on the way farmers are able to farm and grow food. In the past, farmers would have to do field work by hand or with a cow or donkey-drawn equipments. This work would take a long time to complete, which meant that farms were smaller because farmers could only work so much land. Animals were not very fast, and they would tire out so farmers would have to let them rest. Today, most farmers use tractors and other motorized equipment to help with field work. Tractors are larger and move faster than animals, so farmers are able to work on more land and grow more food. Tractors still need to be taken care of because they can break down just like a car. But they can run for longer periods of time and work when the farmer needs them.
The way in which farm animals are raised and where they live has changed as well. Through research with animals, scientists have discovered what types of housing are best for animals to live in and produce food. Dairy cows now live in barns that have soft mattresses, sand beds or water beds for them to sleep on, nutritionists to feed them special diets, and fans and sprinklers to keep them cool when it is hot outside. In the past, farmers did not know what made a cow comfortable, but now that farmers have more information, they can better take care of their animals. This allows cows to make more milk.
Chickens now live indoors most of the time to protect them from predators such as hawks and also to protect them from diseases that might be carried by wild birds. When chickens live inside, both the eggs and the meat they produce are protected from diseases, and farmers can make sure that consumers receive healthy products.
Biotechnology in agriculture is the use of technology to make advances in crop production and in animals. Seed technology has changed from the past to today, where crops are able to withstand harsh weather conditions such as drought and flooding. In the past, whole harvests could have been destroyed by a drought because the plants were not designed to withstand those conditions. But now, thanks to biotechnology and genetic engineering, crops are able to withstand harsh conditions which means that even in bad weather years, farmers are still able to harvest crops and provide food to the market. Farmers can grow a variety of things in their fields because seeds are designed to adapt to different conditions. This means that farmers can grow different foods and add diversity into our diets. Pesticides and herbicides, when used in moderation by farmers, offer the chance to protect crops against unwanted pests such as insects and weeds. By decreasing the amount of pests, farmers are able to yield more food which allows them to sell more food to the market and ensure that people have enough to eat.
Environmental standards, which are rules for protecting the environment, have changed over time and allow for better use of our natural resources. Farmers are now taking stock of how they use resources and making a commitment to better use those resources for a more sustainable world. Through the use of technologies, farmers are able to provide extra care for the land. From 1964 to 2017, farmers have been able to reduce the amount of resources needed on a dairy farm and the amount of waste coming from the farm. Cows of today are also able to produce more milk and have decreased their carbon footprint. The beef industry has also reduced their use of resources. Farmers are working hard to control the waste that is generated by their farms and many have implemented Nutrient Management Plans. These plans help to track how waste, such as water and manure, is stored on the farm and how manure is used as fertilizer.
Farms are growing in size because of increased efficiency. In the past, cows had to be milked by hand, and it took a long time to do this. But today, cows are milked with special machines that take less time to milk the cow and fewer people have to spend time milking. This allows farmers to milk more cows, and produce more milk for you and your family to drink. There are fewer farmers today because farmers are able to produce more food with the land that they have. This allows food to be more affordable in the store so fewer people go hungry. Also, because farmers can produce more food, those not involved in farming can work in fields such as education, science, history, medicine, journalism or many other occupations.
Today, people can still grow their own food at home. You could plant a garden at home to grow your own food, and see what it is like to be farmer on a small scale. There are many different types of farms that have different practices for growing food.
Information is absolutely vital in supporting changes in farming. With good information farmers can learn about new techniques, effective farming, correct farm inputs, new agricultural policies, new agricultural inputs, new crop varieties, climate change mitigation and more.
Not long ago, information on used to only reach the farmer via the traditional extension worker which resulted in a wide gap in dissemination of farmer related information. The Kenyan media has been quick to identify this gap and has aired farmer related programmes on TV and radio. But despite the presence of such programmes in mainstream media, mass media means of communication is one way and has limited or no feedback from farmers. It also tends to be too general and less focused.
As luck would have it Kenyan farmers now have a new agricultural information platform at their disposal; Farmers Trend portal gives farmers access to information on various food crops, extend in cultivation, research and technology, markets and creating linkages between producers and potential buyers and vise vasa. Farmers Trend today is being involved in supporting and enlightening the small holder farmers appreciate modern farming skills, technology, value addition and diversification towards sustainable agribusiness.
Though, One thing remains the same about agriculture today as it did centuries ago: Small family farmers own and operate farms. Whether it is your next door neighbor or farm miles away from you, farmers and their families are working hard to bring healthy and affordable food to your dinner plate.