PS asks NYS to utilize its land fully for food security
Proper utilisation of National Youth Service (NYS) land across the country can solely beat food insecurity in the country, the Principal Secretary, State Department for Public Service Mary Kimonye has said.
Speaking after touring Mavoloni, Athi River and Yatta NYS field stations in Machakos County, the PS who was accompanied by a delegation from her ministry said that the government has laid workable plans to progressively increase the acreage of cultivated NYS land annually in efforts to increase food productivity.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), about 12 million people in the country are food poor.
However, Ms. Kimonye said that the service has huge chunks of fertile, virgin land that if utilized, it can help the government achieve its food security agenda.
She said increasing agricultural productivity and production in various ways will be the principal approach to solving the problem of long-term food insecurity in the country.
Many NYS units are however battling unstable power supply, inadequate water to irrigate crops, scarce farming machinery, and equipment, and understaffing, challenges that have continuously impended the service men’s bid to feed Kenyans.
“The NYS land, if farmed to full capacity can help the country achieve its food security target. The service has expansive land in thousands of undeveloped acreages which we hope to utilize to increase food productivity,” she said.
This year, the PS said that the service has been given a revenue target of Sh 1 billion to the national coffers which it should generate from farm agriculture and factories that it operates.
According to Samuel Maina, the commanding officer at NYS Athi River field station which has 3,396 acreages, the unit engages in farming maize, papaws, black and green beans, sweet potatoes, cottons, bananas among others.
So far, only 300 acres are under cultivation by 597 men and women who are engaged in the national program on a daily basis, a challenge that he attributed to an inadequate water supply.
“Our only source of water is Yatta canal and in the event that there is routine maintenance, we experience limited or no water supply subjecting to untold misery as we depend on that water for consumption and irrigation of crops,” he said.
He said that the unit has a production target of Sh40 million which it’s supposed to remit to the national coffers after the sale of their farm produce.
“We have projections to increase the acreages that we farm so that we are able to meet the target set for us,” he said.