Make agriculture compulsory subject to boost food security

Close up photo of a pair of hands holding up a handful of peanuts.
Kenya is gearing towards the attainment of Vision 2030, a blue print for future economic growth and to improve quality of life. In the Vision 2030 is the social pillar, which aims at investing in the people of Kenya by targeting a cross section of human and social welfare projects and programmes through education. Kenya has come up with various policy strategies to jumpstart and have a self sustaining economy. Many of the policies the technocrats have crafted are, for example, geared towards the attainment of specific sector goals in the economy, forgetting the fact that majority of Kenyans live in the rural areas where land, which is the major factor of production, is shrinking through sub-divisions. In spite of this, the government has given priority to infrastructure development and devolution and at this point we are not saying it is wrong, but where are the goods to be transported, are we acting as a conveyor belt for other economies? Kenya covers a total area of 587,000km2 of which 576,076 is land, of the total land area 16 per cent is of high to medium arable, the rest is Arid and Semi Arid. Out of 48 million hectares, 24 million hectares is used for nomadic pastoralist and the rest can support commercial agriculture through irrigation and technological support. Kenya is an agriculture-based economy which earns the country 32 per cent of the total revenue unlike tourism or service oriented industry, which rank below. Many developing countries today are facing major challenges with regard to food security as a result of changes in rural land utilisation, coupled with population pressure. One of the ways countries like Kenya have responded to this is by ensuring that agriculture as a subject is taught at various levels of education, especially secondary school, but not as a compulsory subject. Though the government has spent enormous resources on the development and teaching of agriculture in secondary schools, little has been done to ascertain whether there is any significant difference in agricultural productivity between farmers who had secondary school agriculture knowledge and those without this knowledge. Agriculture as a subject was established in the schools’ curricula at several phases in the slow development of colonial education. The Ominde Commission (GOK, 1964) observed that very little had been done towards training pupils in practical skills. The commission emphasised the need to prepare secondary school pupils to take an active role in agricultural processes besides preparing youths for further studies in agriculture. Agricultural expansion and development can be purposefully accelerated. One of the ways is provision of agricultural education and training through schools, colleges and extension education, together with youth clubs. “Without education, development will not occur. Only an educated person can command the skills necessary for sustainable economic growth”. Kenya needs to make Agriculture a compulsory subject at all educational levels to inculcate the necessary skills for production in students to ensure food security. This will be coupled with scientific and agricultural information dissemination among the farming communities’ especially small holder farmers in the villages. Despite the agricultural technologies that have been generated through research in Africa, the impact of such technologies is yet to be felt in most households owing to inefficiency in communicating and sharing agricultural knowledge. The situation in Africa is aggravated by slow adoption of modern information and communication technologies and the shortage of information and communication management professionals. Besides, agriculture, as a subject, is not taken seriously in primary and secondary schools. In some instances, it is fused with other subjects. The agricultural core curriculum is poorly designed and most often students do not have access to learning aids that can enable them learn about new agricultural technologies. Agriculture should be integrated into the education system and linked to colleges, universities and research institutions which should package their findings distribute to schools. This cannot be done if the government does not increase budgetary allocation for the education sector to take care of this.
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