Kenya’s vast Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) encompass a staggering 80% of the country’s landmass. This region, home to roughly 16 million Kenyans, is a land of stark beauty and harsh realities. Pastoral communities have carved out a life here for generations, their existence intricately linked to the health of their livestock. These regions, though crucial for Kenya’s beef industry, grapple with food insecurity due to unpredictable rainfall, economic hardships, and even conflict.

Despite these challenges, the potential for a thriving beef sector in ASALs remains. Beef cattle make up a significant portion of Kenya’s national herd, with nearly half originating from these very regions. However, there’s a disconnect between this potential and the reality of poverty faced by ASAL communities.

In spite of their ingenuity and deep understanding of this unforgiving environment, ASAL residents grapple with some of the nation’s highest poverty rates. The land itself presents a multitude of challenges. Rainfall is erratic and scarce, punctuated by devastating droughts. This unpredictability makes crop cultivation a gamble, and forces pastoralists to constantly be on the move, seeking grazing pastures for their herds.

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Limited access to finances, infrastructure issues like poor roads, and the harsh environment itself all contribute to this disparity. Traditional pastoral practices lack formal financial inclusion, hindering investments in better grazing lands, veterinary care, and essential supplies. Additionally, the unpredictable nature of droughts constantly threatens livelihoods.

These challenges are further compounded by a lack of infrastructure. Remote locations make it difficult for farmers to get their cattle to market, limiting profit margins and hindering investment in their herds. The absence of reliable financial systems also restricts access to loans and insurance, crucial tools for weathering the inevitable storms, both literal and metaphorical.

The consequences of these hardships are stark. Food insecurity is a constant threat, malnutrition rates are high, and disease outbreaks can decimate herds, plunging families deeper into poverty. Conflict, often sparked by competition for scarce resources, adds another layer of complexity to this already precarious situation.

However, amidst these struggles, there are glimmers of hope. The Kenyan government recognizes the critical role that a thriving ASAL region plays in the nation’s economic well-being. Beef production is a cornerstone of the ASAL economy, with these regions contributing nearly half of Kenya’s national herd.

There’s immense potential for growth, but unlocking it requires a multi-pronged approach. Strengthening market access is crucial. Reliable transportation networks and improved marketing infrastructure are essential for connecting farmers to lucrative markets and ensuring they receive fair prices for their cattle.

Cooperatives offer a promising pathway towards a more secure future for ASAL communities. By pooling resources, farmers gain greater bargaining power, access to better deals, and opportunities for value addition. This collaborative approach can empower them to become more resilient in the face of climate shocks and economic downturns.

Investing in education and promoting financial inclusion are equally important. Equipping communities with the knowledge and tools to manage their herds more effectively and navigate financial systems can go a long way in building a more secure future for the people living in the ASALs.



FAO Report Indicates the Devastating Effects of Disasters on Agriculture

The world is facing a new normal: a relentless barrage of disasters hammering agricultural systems. From the devastating swarms of desert locusts in East Africa to the relentless hurricanes in the Atlantic, these events leave a trail of destruction, impacting not just farmers’ livelihoods but also our global food security.

This article, based on a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), dives into the economic and nutritional consequences of disasters on agriculture, explores the most impactful disaster types, and emphasizes the urgent need for building resilient agricultural systems.

The Economic Toll of Disasters

Disasters inflict a heavy economic blow on agriculture, the sector most vulnerable to their wrath. Lower crop and livestock production translate to billions of dollars in losses.

Between 2008-2018, disasters caused staggering losses:

  • USD 30 billion in sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa
  • USD 29 billion in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • USD 8.7 billion across Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean
  • USD 49 billion in Asia

Disaster Hall of Shame: The Top Culprits

While all disasters wreak havoc, some stand out for their devastating impact on agricultural production in least developed countries (LDCs) and low to middle income countries (LMICs) from 2008-2018:

  1. Drought: The undisputed champion of agricultural devastation, responsible for over 34% of crop and livestock production loss (USD 37 billion).
  2. Floods: The runner-up, causing USD 21 billion in losses (19% of the total).
  3. Storms: Particularly destructive in 2017, responsible for USD 19 billion in losses (18% of the total).
  4. Pests, Diseases & Infestations: Biological threats like the 2020 desert locust crisis contribute 9% to production loss.
  5. Wildfires: Though seemingly less impactful (USD 1 billion in losses), wildfires can have devastating consequences on forestry and ecosystems.

Disasters and Nutrition

The impact of disasters extends far beyond economic losses. Reduced agricultural production translates to significant nutritional deficiencies. Between 2008-2018, disaster-induced production losses resulted in:

  • Africa: Potential loss of 559 calories per capita per day (20% of Recommended Daily Allowance – RDA)
  • Latin America & the Caribbean: Potential loss of 975 calories per capita per day (40% of RDA)
  • Asia: Potential loss of 283 calories per capita per day (11% of RDA)

Building Resilience

The time for action is now. We must transform how we manage disasters to safeguard our food security. Effective national strategies on disaster risk reduction (DRR) require a comprehensive understanding of disaster impacts on agriculture, including:

  • Identifying damage and loss patterns across crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries, and aquaculture.
  • Building profiles of all types of disasters, from rapid-onset catastrophes to slow-moving droughts and localized events.
  • Expanding disaster assessments to consider pandemics, food chain crises, conflicts, and protracted crises.
  • Integrating disaster risk reduction with climate change adaptation strategies.

For a Deeper Dive:

The full FAO report, “The impact of disasters and crises on agriculture and food security 2021,” offers a wealth of information on disaster impacts and practical recommendations for building resilient agricultural systems. By understanding the challenges and implementing effective solutions, we can create a future where agriculture can weather any storm and nourish a food-secure world.



What are the next 10 years going to be like? Well, in this episode, we’re going to take you through a detailed timeline of what we think is going to happen by 2035 in the field of agriculture. This year, we saw the first Apple headset called Vision Pro, capable of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). We also witnessed GPT-4o, which can perform live translations and multimodal tasks. Global carbon emissions have peaked, and renewable energies are being adopted at a record rate.

The next year promises major advancements in artificial intelligence. We can expect Tesla to unveil their highly dexterous Optimus Gen 3 robot with 22 degrees of freedom in its hands, and both OpenAI and Google are likely to announce powerful new large language models with capabilities approaching up to 20 percent of the human brain. Additionally, we expect significant progress in on-device AI software, bringing real-time assistance and information directly to users’ smartphones.

As we move from 2024 to 2035, the world will witness groundbreaking advancements and transformative changes across various sectors, driven by rapid technological progress. This period promises significant developments in AI, energy, agriculture, and societal structures, paving the way for a future that is both promising and challenging. Now, let’s explore how these technological advancements will transform agriculture over the next decade.

2024-2025: The Advent of On-Device AI and Enhanced Search Engines

By early 2025, on-device AI software will become widely available, offering users real-time assistance directly on their smartphones. This technology will provide instant access to information and services, revolutionizing how we interact with digital devices.

Towards the end of 2025, AI integration will overhaul major online search engines. These AI-powered systems will offer curated search results and advanced functionalities, including the ability to search through videos, photos, and documents seamlessly. Platforms like TikTok and Facebook will adopt video AI, allowing users to pinpoint specific moments within videos effortlessly.

AR technology which augments your surroundings by adding digital elements to a live view, often by using the camera on a smartphone and VR which provides a completely immersive experience that replaces a real-life environment with a simulated one advancement will be greatly advanced. In the developed world, AR will transform how farmers manage their fields. Farmers will begin utilizing AR overlays to view real-time data on crops, allowing for swift action against deficiencies, pests, or diseases. AR will also enhance training by creating interactive programs where new farmers can practice techniques virtually before applying them in real life. On the other hand, VR will play a role in farm design. Farmers will be able to create virtual models to experiment with layouts and infrastructure, optimizing their farms for efficiency. VR experiences will even allow remote management, enabling farmers to virtually visit their fields for monitoring or training purposes. Ultimately, AR and VR will usher in an era of informed decision-making, improved efficiency, and enhanced education within agriculture, creating a more sustainable and transparent food system for consumers.

2026: The Rise of Autonomous Systems and Digital Financial Transformation

In 2026, the impact of AI on the job market will become evident, with an estimated 5 million jobs being displaced. This shift will lead to reduced working hours and potential backlash as industries adapt to increased automation.

Autonomous tractors and robotic harvesters will become more common on farms. These machines, equipped with AI-driven decision-making capabilities, can operate 24/7, significantly enhancing productivity and reducing the reliance on manual labor. In developing regions, the adoption of such technologies will require infrastructural improvements and financial support, but pilot programs show promising results in increasing efficiency and reducing costs.

In this period, AI-Driven Supply Chains will be advanced and AI will begin to revolutionize the sector. Predictive analytics help farmers and distributors anticipate demand more accurately, reducing food waste and improving profitability. Blockchain technology ensures transparency and traceability from farm to fork, building consumer trust and enabling better food safety management. Developing countries benefit from these innovations by integrating local markets into global supply chains, ensuring fair prices and reducing losses.

The financial sector will undergo significant digitization, with cryptocurrency gaining prominence. Companies and workplaces will increasingly adopt cryptocurrencies, integrating them into their financial operations. Additionally, AI will enhance agricultural supply chains, improving efficiency and profitability through predictive analytics and blockchain technology.

2027: Breakthroughs in Energy and Autonomous Stores

The year 2027 will mark a major milestone in energy production, with the first commercially viable net energy production from nuclear fusion. This breakthrough will revolutionize industries, including agriculture, by providing a sustainable and abundant energy source.

Solar perovskite materials will also become commercially viable, leading to the widespread use of thin solar films on windows and roofs. The rise of autonomous stores will transform retail, with companies like Amazon and Target implementing fully autonomous food shopping experiences across the U.S. and Europe.

2028: Achieving Artificial General Intelligence and Cultured Meat Adoption

By 2028, humanity will achieve Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), with AI systems matching or surpassing human cognitive abilities. This advancement will revolutionize various fields, from education to industry. The education sector will experience a transformation, with AI tutors replacing traditional universities and colleges, leading to a surge in online education and a more efficient learning process.

As the effects of climate change become more pronounced, biotechnology will play a crucial role in developing climate-resilient crops. By 2028, advancements in genetic modification and CRISPR technology will lead to the creation of crops that can withstand extreme weather, pests, and diseases. This innovation is critical for developing countries, where agriculture is highly vulnerable to climate variability, ensuring food security and supporting sustainable agricultural practices.

Additionally, cultured meat will enter the mainstream, becoming a widely accepted and commercially viable alternative to traditional meat. This innovation will reduce the environmental impact of livestock farming and lead to a decline in animal agriculture by 2030.

2029-2031: Sustainability and Technological Integration

By 2030, smart irrigation systems and water management technologies will become essential, addressing water scarcity and enhancing agricultural productivity. Over 90% of the global population will be literate and have internet access, bridging educational and digital divides.

AI-enhanced crop breeding will accelerate the development of resilient and high-yielding crop varieties, supporting food security and sustainable agriculture practices. The integration of renewable energy sources into farming operations will become standard, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and promoting environmental sustainability.

2032-2034: Societal Shifts and Quantum Computing

The early 2030s will see significant societal changes, with the first trillionaire emerging by 2032. The workforce will shrink by 2 billion people due to widespread automation and AI, leading to increased adoption of Universal Basic Income (UBI) and Universal Basic Services (UBS). Humanoid robots will become commonplace, performing manual labor tasks across various industries.

The year 2034 will introduce general-purpose quantum computing software for everyday tasks, further revolutionizing technology use in homes and offices. Climate refugees will become a pressing issue, necessitating global cooperation and support.

The coming decades hold immense potential for both positive and negative developments, making them a critical juncture in human history. Despite the negativity surrounding current events, I believe advancements in science and technology offer a compelling reason for optimism. Just as we’ve historically used innovation to overcome challenges, so too can we navigate the future successfully by continuing to be resourceful and leveraging the tools we create.



Kenya’s newest champion is a delicious creamy fruit: the avocado, which is rapidly climbing the export charts, making Kenya the undisputed avocado king of Africa, and a strong contender globally.

Europe’s already a fan, and Kenya’s setting its sights on massive markets like India and China. While Mexico remains the undisputed leader, Kenya’s exports skyrocketed by a whopping 24% last year – the highest growth among major producers.

Kenya’s got a natural advantage. Perfect growing conditions exist between 1,500 and 2,100 meters above sea level, and luckily, that’s where much of the Kenyan landscape sits. Sustainability is another win. Abundant rainfall in the highlands means most farms don’t need extra water, except during the dry season. Even then, water usage is incredibly efficient, with some farms using less than 100 liters per kilogram of avocado – way below the global average. Plus, year-round equatorial sunshine allows the avocados to “grow by day and sleep at night,” as one industry insider playfully puts it.

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Kenya also has a lucky harvest window. Their avocados hit the market before many competitors’, giving them a head start. Some regions even enjoy double harvests thanks to two rainy seasons, extending their selling period. Savvy small-scale farmers are jumping on board too, as well-maintained avocado trees start producing decent yields within a few years.

Labor costs are another factor in Kenya’s favor. While wages are lower than some competitors, some larger Kenyan growers offer above-average pay. And for consumers, the price difference is stark. A ripe avocado in a Kenyan market can be found for mere pennies, while a single fruit in European supermarkets might cost several dollars, depending on the season.

Demand is on the rise too. While the US devours a massive chunk of global imports, Europe’s love affair with the avocado is blossoming as well. Last year, Germans and Poles saw their avocado consumption increase by 10% and 24% respectively.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though. Maintaining high standards for quality, traceability, and sustainability is crucial, as every exported avocado represents Kenya’s reputation. In the past, there have been concerns about unripe avocados reaching the market. The agricultural authorities even intervened last year to prevent exports from some smallholders who lacked proper storage and irrigation techniques.

Shipping also presents challenges. Precise temperature control is essential, and with the Red Sea currently unavailable due to regional conflicts, the longer route around South Africa adds both cost and risk of spoilage.

Despite these hurdles, Kenya is not only a leader in renewable energy, but also a champion of a different kind of green economy – one fueled by delicious avocados.



November 30, 2023 BLOGEAGMARK NEWS0
. Recent research reports highlight the disparity between Africa’s agriculture and that of leading food-producing nations like the US, EU, Australia, and Asia.
. The way forward involves significant investments in research, infrastructure, improved data, and technology transfer to foster sustainable productivity to ensure Africa’s competitiveness in the global market.

The agricultural community in Africa is currently struggling with many challenges, including the need to increase production, reduce emissions, and adapt to adverse weather conditions. Compounding these challenges is a decline in government funding for the sector. Recent research reports highlight the disparity between Africa’s agriculture and that of leading food-producing nations like the US, EU, Australia, and Asia, especially in terms of climate funding.

A closer look at the situation in Kenya reveals that while the 2023 government budget suggests a commitment to the agricultural sector, the allocated 49.9 billion Kenya Shillings (about $ 33 million) in the 2023-2024 budget is meant to strengthen operations in research, product development, and processing capacity, which pales in comparison to its peers in the global sphere. Kenya’s investment in agricultural research and development (R&D) as a percentage of its agricultural GDP is notably lower. In contrast, countries like China and the European Union are making substantial investments in revitalizing farmland and supporting sustainable agriculture practices.

Addressing this funding gap is not just a matter of optimizing statistics; it is crucial for securing Africa’s position as a major player in agriculture. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) highlights the need for increased investments in clean agriculture and substantial government support for research and development to ensure competitiveness in the global market.

Historically, Africa has been a significant contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, particularly in the Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector. Let’s delve into the details:

To put it in the context of global emissions, GHG emissions reached nearly 50 gigatons of CO2-equivalents per year in 2016. The energy sector accounted for 73% of these emissions, while AFOLU contributed 18% (with agriculture making up 12% of that). Industrial processes and waste management activities constituted the remaining shares. In Africa, AFOLU sectors have historically dominated emissions. These sectors encompass the balance between carbon sequestration (through forests and savannas) and carbon release (due to agricultural practices, deforestation, fires, and forest degradation).

In Sub-Saharan Africa, AFOLU still represents the majority of emissions (56% in 2016, down from 71% in 1990). North Africa, on the other hand, maintains a small negative balance (more sequestration than emissions).

While Africa’s overall contribution to global emissions may be modest, targeted efforts in the AFOLU sector are crucial for sustainable development and climate resilience. There is untapped potential to reduce emissions through initiatives such as carbon offsets and no-till farming. Other mitigation strategies involve the introduction of modern practices such as agroforestry, climate-smart agriculture, and organic farming in agricultural projects. These approaches can lead to reduced CO2 and N2O emissions, contributing to overall GHG mitigation.

Challenges in Agricultural Innovation and the Path Forward

One significant hurdle in advancing agricultural practices in Africa is the lack of advanced soil measurement technology. Concerns include data gaps, modeling accuracy, addressing emerging scientific understandings of indirect emissions, and tackling carbon leakage in emission reduction efforts within agriculture. To address these issues, a comprehensive measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) system throughout the value chain is crucial. Currently, less than 5% of African farmland undergoes testing, primarily relying on traditional, laborious, expensive, and time-consuming methods in soil labs, limiting the speed of data acquisition and analysis.

The cost of cutting-edge technology, such as smart sensors and remote sensing via satellites or drones, poses a barrier to widespread adoption among farmers due to its hefty price tag. Access to accurate data is pivotal for innovation, and collaborative efforts between governments and tech firms are essential to ensuring affordable technology solutions, enhancing efficiency, and curbing environmental impact.

Coherent government policies are essential to streamline investments, encourage collaboration, and provide a clear path for climate-smart agriculture. This involves unified government strategies, inter-governmental collaboration, and evaluating fertilizer emissions through a voluntary and extensively consultative approach. The Fertilizer Emissions Reduction Strategy must focus on emissions intensity per unit of production rather than absolute reduction, recognizing the critical and often costly role of fertilizers for farmers.

Incentivizing innovation in farming, similar to incentives for electric vehicles, requires government intervention through co-investments in new technologies. Agriculture’s strategic focus in Africa’s industrial policy presents a global growth opportunity, given its significance to the economy, environment, and society. Africa, as a major agricultural exporter with US$661.4 billion in exports in 2022 and relationships with nearly all the global countries, holds key markets, including the United States, China, India, and the European Union nations.

Attracting new talent to the agriculture and food sectors in Africa necessitates building a 21st-century talent pipeline with a focus on digital and business skills. Elevating the profile of agriculture as a career choice for youth and individuals transitioning from declining industries requires new educational initiatives and collaboration with academic institutions.

Despite these hurdles, the African agricultural sector has the potential to lead in various areas. By adopting innovative methods like zero tillage, diverse crop rotations, and conservation tillage, countries like Kenya can rejuvenate their agriculture, reduce emissions, and increase yields. Introducing novel crop varieties and organic enhancements, along with investments in these areas, can further strengthen Africa’s position.

To achieve this, there is a need for unified government strategies, inter-governmental collaboration, and a focus on evaluating fertilizer emissions through a voluntary and consultative process. Incentivizing innovation, making agriculture a strategic focus in industrial policy, and attracting new talent through educational initiatives are also crucial steps forward.

The way forward involves significant investments in research, infrastructure, improved data, and technology transfer to foster sustainable productivity, ensure food security, and reduce environmental impacts. As global crises disrupt supply chains and countries face food shortages, prioritizing climate-smart agriculture is crucial. Implementing suitable policies will not only strengthen the economy but also alleviate geopolitical risks and accelerate emissions reductions.

Africa, with its favorable climate and soils, has the potential to emerge as a sustainable global food source, contributing to the challenges of food security, climate change, and sustainable development on a global scale.



The heart of our collective efforts revolves around the workforce that accomplishes the tasks and success is unattainable without the individuals who tirelessly labor, day in and day out. The agricultural sector faces its own distinctive workforce challenges, which include a scarcity of applicants, demanding working conditions, and fierce competition for labor.

While technology isn’t a magic solution, recent advancements offer potential relief from the labor-related burdens that farmers are grappling with. Beyond automating manual tasks and addressing hiring gaps, technology can create a safer and more efficient work environment, which can, in turn, enhance recruitment and staff retention.

For a long time now, agriculture has faced a plethora of challenges, but one issue consistently stands out as a top concern: labor. While other challenges, like government regulations and climate change, have surfaced over the years, labor remains the primary concern. It has become evident that mechanization is the only viable solution for sustaining production worldwide.

However, there is perhaps undue optimism about the speed of mechanization adoption. The development of technology is a gradual process, akin to constructing a skyscraper one story at a time. It’s not characterized by sudden breakthroughs but rather incremental progress. Failures are common in the realm of invention, and the disappointment in the slow progress of robotics can be attributed to the nature of technological development.

The agriculture industry faces the perennial challenge of attracting and retaining labor. However, the younger generation entering the workforce is discovering appealing and innovative opportunities in agriculture, largely thanks to ag tech. This technology is instrumental in attracting young individuals to an industry that is both exciting and purpose-driven.

Young people with a passion for technology see agriculture as a means to make a positive impact on the world. Agriculture is no longer at odds with sustainability; in fact, it leads the way in promoting it. To attract and retain talent, the industry needs to better convey its critical mission and the opportunities it offers for personal and financial growth.

Also, agriculture is one of the few professions with a steady demand for its products. People may choose how to spend their money, but they can’t choose whether or not to eat. This aspect, coupled with opportunities for travel within major agricultural companies, makes agriculture an attractive career option for young professionals.

The rapid transformation of the agriculture industry, driven by technological advancements, demands a different kind of workforce. It requires expertise in satellite technology and data science, placing agriculture in direct competition with tech giants like Google and Microsoft for talent. While those with a background in agriculture may be more inclined to pursue careers in the industry, there is a need to attract non-traditional candidates, including women, who are underrepresented.

Ag tech not only has a “cool factor” but also aligns with the values of the younger generation. It allows them to make a tangible impact on global issues like food security and sustainability. The ability to work remotely and enjoy a better work-life balance adds to the appeal of ag tech careers. These roles offer uncapped career potential and do not require prior agricultural experience.

Universities and technical schools are now offering specialized programs in ag tech, equipping young individuals with the skills and knowledge to excel in the field. This educational support further enhances the attractiveness of ag tech careers. The combination of technological innovation, sustainability objectives, diverse career paths, and success stories within the agriculture industry is drawing more young talent to explore the possibilities that ag tech has to offer.


October 14, 2023 BLOGEAGMARK NEWS0


In an era where health-conscious consumers increasingly seek healthier and sustainable food options, trust in the food system is paramount. Transparency, as revealed by numerous studies, is the cornerstone of this trust and transformation in the agri-food industry. The latest EIT Food Trust Report from 2021 hints at growing consumer awareness, but it also emphasizes that there is more work to be done. Consumers desire clarity regarding the criteria for food products and increased supply chain transparency.

We’ve been witnessing the evolution of consumer preferences and industry dynamics. The need for transparency has never been more apparent, and digital technology is emerging as a vital solution. Digital innovations have made it possible to track, trace, and document the journey of food items through the supply chain, enhancing trust and security in the food we consume.

While trust in the food system has shown some positive growth, there is still much work to be done. Consumers are not only looking for companies to adapt to their needs but also for greater transparency in the food supply chain.

The agri-food industry faces the challenge of producing for a global market while ensuring the integrity and trust of consumers. In the age of complex and extensive supply chains, maintaining visibility throughout the journey of food products has become essential. This visibility is vital in reducing the risks of foodborne illnesses like E. coli, listeria, and salmonella.

READ: Biobanking Initiative to Preserve African Indigenous Chicken

The adoption of traceability technology has emerged as a fundamental solution to this challenge. By using this technology, companies can precisely identify the source, location, and ownership of food products as they traverse the supply chain. This enables them to effectively track and trace potentially contaminated items, ensuring the safety and quality of their products.

Here are four compelling reasons why traceability is pivotal for food and retail companies:

  1. Enhancing Supply Chain Visibility and Efficiency: The days when local farmers and markets were trusted by small communities are long gone. In today’s globalized world, food companies cater to mass markets, making supply chains more intricate. This complexity brings risks of food-borne illnesses. Traceability technology empowers companies to identify the source, location, and ownership of food products, making it easier to track and trace contaminated items, thus ensuring the safety and quality of products.
  2. Ensuring Transparency with Consumers: With concerns about food safety and the increasing desire for certified product origin, traceability has emerged as a guardian of customer confidence. This technology allows companies to transparently share information about the origin of food products with consumers, enabling them to make informed decisions. Whether it’s information about health and sustainability, food safety, or product authenticity, traceability technology equips customers with the evidence needed to trust the food they purchase.
  3. Boosting Company Reputation and Compliance: Companies that embrace traceability can not only enhance their reputation but also communicate their commitment to sustainability, ethical sourcing, and responsible production practices. In today’s market, this commitment can be a competitive advantage. Moreover, as governments worldwide tighten regulations to ensure food safety, traceability is crucial for compliance. Accurate records of product origins and movements demonstrate a company’s commitment to adhering to regulations and avoiding costly fines and legal repercussions.
  4. Risk Management and Consumer Protection: Traceability is a valuable tool for managing risks in the food industry. It enables companies to quickly pinpoint affected batches in the event of a food safety issue or product recall. This minimizes the scope of the problem and protects consumers from potentially harmful products, ensuring that food products meet safety and quality standards and reducing the risk of liability.

The integration of technology and innovation has revolutionized food traceability, with comprehensive systems that provide a detailed view of a product’s lifecycle, from planting or harvesting to the end consumer. Information on production stages, farming locations, inputs, processes, and quality controls is readily available, ensuring product safety and quality. To further empower consumers, farmers and retailers can generate QR codes, allowing customers to access traceability data with a simple scan. This not only enhances consumer knowledge but also fosters trust by providing information on production efforts, safety compliance, and pesticide usage reports, therefore providing consumers with the transparency and confidence they seek when choosing food products.



Namibia has suspended the import of live poultry, birds, and poultry products from its neighbor South Africa following the persistent outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). This precautionary step, communicated by Namibia’s Ministry of Agriculture, has been put into effect immediately and is set to endure until further updates are provided.

South Africa finds itself in the throes of a significant bird flu outbreak, marked by disheartening reports that nearly two million chickens have succumbed to this debilitating disease. Poultry producers, including industry giants Quantum Foods and Astral Foods, are grappling with substantial losses, tallying up to approximately R22 million.

Namibia’s reliance on South African poultry products, especially chicken, is substantial, with an estimated monthly consumption of 2,500 tons. Consequently, the suspension of imports from South Africa will reverberate through Namibia’s poultry industry and impact its consumers significantly.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza, a contagious viral disease, casts a shadow of menace over poultry populations. Namibia’s decision to halt imports from South Africa shows its commitment to protect its domestic poultry sector and shield its territory from the disease’s introduction.

Namibia’s Ministry of Agriculture has issued prudent advice, urging both the public and stakeholders within the poultry sector to remain vigilant and diligently adhere to biosecurity measures. Hopefully, the authorities in both Namibia and South Africa will collaborate closely to contain the outbreak in South Africa and curtail its repercussions on the broader regional poultry sector. This united effort will curtail the spread of avian influenza within Namibia’s borders.

In the interim, the Namibian public and stakeholders in the poultry industry have been encouraged to actively cooperate with relevant authorities to contain the disease’s spread and mitigate its economic impact.

Earlier in the year, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it was conducting trials for a new avian influenza vaccine designed to prevent the spread of the virus. The vaccine targets a specific part of the avian flu virus and is designed to be highly effective and provide long-lasting protection against the disease. The trials are being conducted in partnership with several poultry producers across the US. If successful, the vaccine could be made available to producers in the near future, providing a valuable tool in the fight against avian flu and helping to protect the health and wellbeing of both poultry and humans.



Kenya is taking significant strides towards restructuring its agricultural taxation system. The Kenyan government’s recent proposal to introduce a 5% withholding tax on agricultural products delivered to cooperatives or other organized groups has sent ripples through the country’s farming community.

In his statement, the Cabinet Secretary, National Treasury & Economic Planning, Prof. Njuguna Ndung’u, disclosed that in FY 2022/23, Kenya’s tax gap was estimated at 11.5% of GDP, indicating the need for the government to take measures to increase the tax-to-GDP ratio and ensure effective provision of services to the public.

Revenue collection from the agricultural sector has long been a challenge for many African governments. Historically, a substantial portion of agricultural income has escaped formal taxation due to the fragmented nature of the industry. The Kenyan government’s move to impose a 5% withholding tax seeks to remedy this issue by ensuring that revenue from agricultural produce is captured more efficiently. It is worth noting that this tax is designed to target agricultural producers delivering their goods to cooperatives or organized groups rather than individual small-scale farmers.

How Withholding Tax Works

Tax withholding is a way for the government to maintain its pay-as-you-earn income tax system. This means taxing individuals at the source of income rather than trying to collect income tax after wages are earned.

In the case of the proposed taxation system by the Kenyan government, this will mean that whenever a farmer delivers produce to the cooperative or farmer society and gets paid, the entity withholds five percent of the amount due to them as income tax. This is then paid by the cooperative or society (withholder) to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). The amount withheld should be remitted online by the withholder to KRA on or before the 20th of the following month.

Upon successful remittance of the withheld amount to KRA, the system generates and sends copies of the Withholding Certificate to the registered email addresses of both the cooperative or society (withholder) and the farmer (withholdee).

The amount deducted appears on the farmer’s payslip or statement, and the total amount deducted annually can be found on the P9 Form, which is a standard tax deduction card or form issued by the employers (in this case, the cooperative society) to the farmers with total emoluments. The cooperative or farmer society will then send the P9 Form to their members each year so they can file their annual income tax returns. The farmer will then be required to download the IT1 return form from the KRA online system and declare income earned as well as the tax withheld.

Although this proposal by the Kenyan government seems outrageous to many, it aligns with a global trend towards modernizing agricultural tax policies. In an era where governments are seeking innovative ways to boost revenue collection without overburdening the farming community, this approach warrants attention. This initiative by the government will be closely monitored by policymakers and experts, as it could serve as a case study for fine-tuning agricultural taxation systems in other regions.

While this may seem like a financial maneuver, it directly affects the lives of countless farmers and their families. The tax burden may result in disincentives for farmers to engage with cooperatives or organized farmer groups. However, if done correctly and with the right intentions, the system can have the transformative power of effective agricultural taxation. If appropriated well, the government can allocate resources more efficiently towards rural development, infrastructure, and agricultural extension services. This, in turn, empowers farmers with knowledge, resources, and market access, ultimately improving their livelihoods.

Only time will tell the effects this new tax system will have on the farming community in Kenya and on the country’s prominence as an agricultural hub in East Africa once it is implemented.

READ: Taxes on Alcohol and Sugar-Sweetened Products to Increase


September 20, 2023 AGRI TECHEAGMARK NEWS0


The global agriculture industry is confronting a myriad of challenges that are putting farmers’ profitability at risk. The rising costs of inputs and labor, coupled with the impacts of climate change, have created a daunting scenario for farmers worldwide. In Africa, these challenges are particularly pronounced, and the need for innovative solutions has never been greater.

Escalating Input Costs and Climate Change Pressures

Farmers across the globe have witnessed a dramatic surge in the prices of essential inputs such as fertilizers and crop protection chemicals. Over the past few years, these costs have escalated by an alarming 80 to 250 percent. The reasons behind this surge are complex, including supply chain disruptions and geopolitical challenges.

In tandem with rising input costs, climate change is aggravating the situation. The consequences of a warming climate are increasingly evident: more frequent acute weather events, prolonged droughts, and the emergence of new invasive crops and pests, all of which diminish crop yields. For instance, Kenya experienced a 5-season long megadrought in arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) and drought-hit communities are still struggling to recover, despite some improvement from the March-May long rains. While counties such as Isiolo, Kwale, Marsabit, and Nyeri have moved into the recovery phase, Kitui and Taita Taveta remain in the alert drought phase. Meanwhile, flash floods triggered by the long rains have caused the loss of lives and livelihoods in various parts of the country, including ASAL counties.

The Promise of Automation

In the face of these challenges, globally, farmers are turning to automation as a beacon of hope. Automation technology offers a spectrum of solutions, ranging from semi-automated techniques like assisted steering to fully autonomous systems such as weeding robots. These innovations leverage sensors, analytics, robotics, and equipment to help farmers make more informed decisions in the field.

Generative AI, a recent development, holds immense potential to automate decision-making processes by harnessing extensive datasets. This could aid farmers in developing strategic plans regarding the application of inputs like fertilizers, crop protection, and seeds, optimizing both profitability and sustainability. With a comprehensive curriculum, programs like the Precision Agriculture Course offered by Eagmark have been developed for African farmers to help accelerate the adoption of technology for farm profitability and overall sustainability. One can enroll in the course through Eagmark’s Online Learning Campus at


The benefits of automation are substantial, with the potential to deliver significant value to both row-crop and specialty-crop growers. For instance, in orchards and vineyards, fully autonomous systems can generate over $400 per acre annually, doubling to quadrupling returns on farmers’ automation investments.

Despite the promise, automation is still in its infancy. According to McKinsey’s 2022 Farmers Global Insights Survey, less than 5 percent of farmers globally have adopted this next-generation technology, while 21 percent are using farm management software. However, two distinct trends are poised to accelerate adoption: the economic pressures facing farmers and the growing emphasis on sustainable farming practices.

Addressing Farm Economics: Input Costs and Labor Challenges

Automation provides tangible solutions to two longstanding issues that have plagued farmers for years: rising chemical costs and labor-related challenges. Supply chain disruptions and geopolitical complexities have driven up the prices of fertilizers, with a staggering 15 percent annual increase over the past five years.

Automation can alleviate these costs by optimizing the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Precision spraying, enabled by sensors and real-time field data, adjusts chemical volumes and timing to minimize waste, significantly reducing expenses. The McKinsey report highlights that herbicide application technologies utilizing computer vision have demonstrated an 80 percent reduction in herbicide costs on large U.S. corn farms.

Labor challenges also persist, with farmworkers facing safety risks and wage pressures. Automation offers the potential to widen the labor pool by simplifying the tasks that require specialized skills. Additionally, it enhances productivity and reallocates labor to higher-value activities. Fully autonomous equipment can reduce the need for hazardous activities, ensuring a safer working environment for farmworkers.

Sustainability: A Catalyst for Change

While input costs provide immediate incentives for automation, sustainability pressures are poised to drive significant change in the near future. Governments worldwide are setting ambitious targets for environmentally sustainable farming practices. For instance, the European Green Deal aims to reduce pesticide use by 50 percent by 2030 and transition a quarter of agricultural land to organic farming. Canada, too, seeks to reduce fertilizer usage by 30 percent by 2030, with non-compliance resulting in significant financial penalties.

Automation emerges as a critical tool to meet these sustainability targets. Automated precision-spraying equipment and weeding technologies can drastically reduce the need for pesticides and fertilizers, aligning with regulatory requirements. Automation also simplifies data collection and reporting, facilitating participation in programs like organic certification.

Consumer Demand for Sustainability

Consumer interest in sustainable food systems is on the rise, pressuring farmers to adopt more environmentally friendly practices. Sustainable brands are experiencing significant growth, with products making environmental, social, and governance (ESG) claims outpacing others. Consumer-packaged-goods (CPG) companies are committing to sustainability, driving demand for traceability in farming practices.

Software solutions and autonomous equipment are enabling traceability from farm to fork. By collecting and transmitting rich, standardized data, farmers can substantiate sustainable practices such as reduced chemical use and efficient irrigation, aligning with the demands of CPG companies.

The Growing Excitement for Automation

The adoption of automated farm equipment hinges on several factors, including technological maturity, economic conditions, regulatory decisions, and environmental changes. To promote adoption, agricultural companies should communicate the immediate return on investment, reimagine the farming experience with digital ecosystems, evolve business models to reduce upfront costs, and collaborate closely with CPG companies to enhance transparency and traceability.

As the dual pressures of farm economics and sustainability intensify, the adoption of automation technology is geared for exponential growth. Farmers are recognizing the triple benefits of automation: increased productivity and profits, enhanced safety, and progress toward sustainability goals. The excitement surrounding these technologies is set to spread, indicating a promising future for African agriculture and its role in the global agriculture industry.


Photo: Farmers collect subsidized fertilizer at the NCPB depot in Eldoret in 2022 © Mathews Ndanyi


As the world contends with surging oil and natural gas prices, the global fertilizer markets have been experiencing a notable uptick in recent weeks, with consequences rippling across the agriculture industry. This development, while concerning, is not isolated, as it mirrors trends observed in the agricultural sector on a global scale.

The global price of ammonium nitrate per ton climbed in August, marking a significant price increase from the previous month. While this price hike may raise eyebrows, it is important to note that it remains significantly lower than the levels witnessed at the same time last year, which saw the introduction of subsidized fertilizer prices in September 2022 by the Kenyan government in response to the evolving dynamics of the global fertilizer market, providing a semblance of relief for farmers and growers.

Natural gas, a key component in fertilizer production, commands a significant share of the total production cost. In August 2023, natural gas prices sharply rose, and although they have since dipped slightly in early September, they remain above July levels. This natural gas price volatility has worsened the situation.

The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) in Kenya released the maximum retail prices for petroleum products that will be effective from September 15, 2023, to October 14, 2023. These new prices, calculated in accordance with the Petroleum Act 2019 and Legal Notice No. 192 of 2022, reflect changes in the global oil market and other economic factors. The price changes in Kenya have since taken effect, with Super Petrol, Diesel, and Kerosene increasing by KES 16.96 per liter, KES 21.32 per liter, and KES 33.13 per liter, respectively.

The soaring prices of crude oil and related products are exerting additional pressure on the fertilizer market. These developments demonstrate the industry’s vulnerability to external economic factors.

READ: Why the Increased Pump Prices Could Push Fertilizer Costs Upwards In The Long Run

To complicate matters further, the global supply of fertilizers has tightened due to reduced export volumes from China and decreased production within the European Union. In Europe, production cuts in Belgium, as well as lingering disruptions, have compounded the issue. These factors have created a challenging environment for both suppliers and growers alike.

The global tightness in supply is the primary reason behind the recent price hike and production cuts in Europe, particularly in Belgium, and geopolitical factors, such as Russia’s influence, are all contributors to the market’s volatility.

Globally, gas prices have retreated from their peak levels of the previous year, but they remain comparatively high. The geopolitical landscape, particularly sanctions impacting Russian fertilizer exports, has disrupted the historical flow of products across Eastern and Western Europe.

Additionally, China’s decision to reduce fertilizer exports in favor of bolstering domestic production has added to the supply challenge. These developments reverberate not only in Kenya but also across the global agriculture sector, where the interconnectedness of markets is increasingly evident.

Despite the challenges and price fluctuations, some traders in Kenya suggest that there is still an ample supply of fertilizers. However, market dynamics can shift rapidly, and a resurgence in grain prices may trigger increased demand for fertilizers in the coming weeks.

READ: Kenya’s Agriculture Sector Confronts Surging Interest Rates



Over the years, we’ve witnessed an acceleration in the development of autonomous farming solutions across the world. From robotic harvesters to drones that monitor crop health, the AgriTech sector is undergoing a seismic shift.

The ever-evolving world of AgriTech has reached new heights and is frenzied with the race to develop autonomous farm vehicles. Autonomous farm vehicles are becoming increasingly sophisticated and capable, and are ready to revolutionize the agricultural industry. These vehicles can perform a wide range of tasks, from planting and harvesting to weeding and spraying, with little or no human intervention.

While the mechanical engineering aspects of creating these machines may seem straightforward – choosing the right powertrain, deciding between tracks and wheels, and building a suitable chassis – the real challenge lies in integrating advanced sensors, cameras, Lidar, satellite guidance, and other technologies that can withstand the rugged conditions of farmwork. The true heroes of this revolution are the software writers and electronics engineers who bring it all together, creating a digital platform for planning tasks and enabling 24/7 remote monitoring via mobile devices.

One of the biggest challenges in developing autonomous farm vehicles is creating a system that can reliably navigate complex environments and avoid obstacles. This requires a combination of sensors, cameras, and artificial intelligence.

Another challenge is to develop a system that can efficiently and accurately perform agricultural tasks. This requires a deep understanding of the specific task at hand, as well as the ability to adapt to changing conditions.

Despite the challenges, there has been significant progress in the development of autonomous farm vehicles in recent years.

These autonomous machines are addressing two critical issues in agriculture: the scarcity of skilled operators and the imperative to protect soils through the use of smaller, lighter machinery that can work longer hours. A number of companies are now offering commercial products, and many more are in development. Let’s delve into some remarkable innovations in the field.

AgXeed AgBot

Where innovation reigns supreme, the AgXeed AgBot stands as a testament to the boundless potential of autonomous farming. This remarkable range of purpose-built autonomous tractors is revolutionizing agriculture, offering a spectrum of capabilities that cater to the diverse needs of modern farming.

At the helm of the AgBot lineup is a 156hp twin-track machine, a powerhouse designed to tackle the most demanding agricultural tasks. Complementing this titan are the 75hp four-wheel drive and narrow trike models, ensuring that there’s an AgBot for every application on the farm.

What unites these autonomous marvels is their innovative Deutz diesel-electric power unit. This ingenious setup sees the engine driving an integrated generator that supplies power to electric motors, a technological marvel in itself. Furthermore, these AgBots offer the option to incorporate a 55kW (74hp) electrically driven power take-off (PTO) at the rear. What sets this PTO apart is its ability to rotate both clockwise and anti-clockwise, affording these vehicles the unique capability to work with PTO-driven implements in either direction, with the implement leading or trailing.

The tracked AgBot 5.115T2 is a testament to engineering excellence. It boasts a substantial 350-litre fuel capacity, ensuring extended hours of uninterrupted operation. Additionally, it features up to four double-acting proportional spool valves, along with an 85-litre/min hydraulic pump that can be upgraded to a load-sensing system. This combination of power and hydraulic efficiency empowers the AgBot to seamlessly handle a diverse range of tasks.

Implement carriage is a crucial aspect of any agricultural machinery, and the AgBot shines in this regard. It sports an 8-tonne capacity three-point linkage at the rear, complemented by a 3-tonne capacity assembly at the front. This design flexibility allows for the transportation of various implements, such as a rear-mounted drill with a hopper.

One of the defining features of the AgBot range is its adaptability to different crop and cropping systems. With numerous combinations of traction belt widths, ranging from 300mm to 910mm, and adjustable track spacings, these autonomous workhorses can effortlessly navigate varying agricultural terrains.

The AgBot 2.055W3, often referred to as the “trike,” is tailored primarily for orchard and vineyard applications. Its versatility shines through as it can be configured to be as narrow as 1.38 meters, ensuring easy navigation through tight spaces.

On the other hand, the four-wheel AgBot 2.055W4 offers a more versatile autonomous solution, catering to farming and commercial horticulture. With front-end steering, unequal tire diameters, and tire widths typically ranging from 270mm to 710mm, this model provides a robust and adaptable solution for various agricultural needs. Its hydraulics setup mirrors that of the tracked machine, featuring up to three spools and implement linkage capacities of 1.5 tonnes at the front and 4 tonnes at the rear.

The AgXeed AgBot range exemplifies the evolving landscape of agricultural technology, where automation and innovation converge to redefine farming as we know it. These autonomous tractors are not just machines; they are the future of agriculture, providing efficiency, precision, and adaptability that empower farmers to meet the demands of a changing world.

AgBot 2.055W4, 75hp, four-wheel drive from AgXeed © AgXeed

CNH Industrial

CNH Industrial, the parent company of Case IH and New Holland has a rich history of innovation and a commitment is pushing the boundaries of agricultural technology by easing into commercial autonomous tech after successful exploratory projects that hinted at a future where machines take the reins in the field.

One of their pioneering ventures, the Case IH AVC concept, introduced the idea of a cabless Magnum tractor, a bold step that showcased the potential of autonomous farming machinery. Following this trailblazing concept, CNH Industrial unveiled the New Holland NHDrive T8, a driver-optional tractor with autonomous working capabilities. These projects laid the groundwork for what was to come.

Fast forward to 2023, and CNH Industrial has set its sights on revolutionizing agriculture in the United States with the introduction of the Case IH Farmall 75C Electric and New Holland T4 Electric Power utility tractors. These battery electric tractors herald a new era, with limited self-driving features that promise to reshape the farming landscape.

One standout feature of these electric tractors is the “Follow Me” function. It allows operators to effortlessly guide the tractor along a designated path, such as a feed or fence line, without the need to constantly climb in and out of the cab. By simply walking ahead of the tractor and transmitting the appropriate commands through a smartphone app, the operator can ensure precise and efficient navigation. No more need for manual intervention during these routine tasks.

Another game-changing function empowers the tractor to autonomously pass-through gateways under remote command. This means no more time wasted hopping on and off the tractor to open and close gates, a common task that has traditionally disrupted workflow on the farm. With this innovation, the tractor seamlessly adapts to its environment, enhancing efficiency and reducing operator fatigue.

Case IH Farmall 75C Electric Tractor
Case IH Farmall 75C Electric Autonomous Electric Tractor © Case IH

Agrointelli Robotti

This Danish manufacturer’s Robotti tool-carrier is a versatile workhorse capable of operating various implements. Its capabilities are nothing short of astonishing, and it’s a testament to the ongoing transformation in agricultural technology. It has demonstrated its prowess by sowing beans, oilseed rape, cereals, sugar beets, maize, vegetables, salad crops, weeding, and even planting potatoes, showcasing its adaptability to diverse farming needs.

This intelligent machine represents a pivotal leap towards a more efficient and sustainable future for agriculture, effortlessly handling a wide array of implements between its four wheels.

But what truly sets the Robotti apart are its two distinctive versions, each tailored to meet specific agricultural demands. The Robotti LR is designed for light-duty operations, equipped with a modest 750k-rated linkage assembly. Its power source is a single 72hp Kubota diesel engine, ensuring up to 60 hours of uninterrupted operation on a single tank of fuel.

In contrast, the 150D version steps up to 144hp, making it suitable for more demanding tasks. It boasts an impressive 1,250kg lift capacity, a power take-off (PTO) system to drive various implements, and the brilliance of two engines – one for propulsion and another for PTO and hydraulic functions. This dual-engine setup provides a formidable total power output of 144hp when the situation demands it.

The Robotti’s design is a marvel of engineering, with a short wheelbase measuring a mere 1.55 meters. It offers flexibility with track widths ranging from 1.8 meters to 3.65 meters, making it adaptable to varying crop and terrain conditions. Its standard 320/65 R16 tires provide stability, while an optional narrower 260/70 R16 configuration is available for specific needs.

Maneuverability is at the heart of the Robotti’s operation, thanks to its front-end steering and four-wheel drive system. When being manually controlled, it can achieve speeds of up to 10 kilometers per hour, ensuring precise navigation. During work, the Robotti gracefully halves its speed, maintaining the utmost accuracy in steering.

The Robotti
The Robotti can operate varied implements © Robotti

Combined Powers

In a groundbreaking collaboration that fuses the expertise of grassland equipment specialist Krone and tillage machinery firm Lemken, a remarkable stride in agricultural technology has emerged—a four-wheel-drive tractor designed exclusively for autonomous operation. This revelation represents the pinnacle of innovation in the ever-evolving AgriTech industry and aligns seamlessly with the transformative momentum we’ve observed over the years.

With dimensions measuring 2.7 meters in width and a modest height of 2.6 meters, this autonomous marvel tips the scales at a sturdy 7.5 to 8 tons. Powered by a diesel-electric unit delivering an impressive 170kW (230hp), this tractor is more than capable of executing a wide array of tasks, from ploughing, cultivating, and seeding to mowing, tedding, and raking. Its versatility knows no bounds.

What sets this tractor apart is its intricate control system, tailored to harness the power of isobus Tractor Implement Management (TIM). This cutting-edge integration enables seamless communication between sensors and a dedicated job computer on the implement and the tractor itself. This means that control instructions, ranging from speed adjustments to hydraulic tweaks, and even start-stop commands, can be relayed effortlessly.

The year 2022 marked a significant milestone when this autonomous wonder publicly demonstrated its field capabilities. However, the journey doesn’t stop there. The project is now embarking on a phase of rigorous testing, exposing the tractor to typical and extreme working conditions. Simultaneously, invaluable feedback is being collected from farmers and contractors, providing essential insights into the concept’s practicality and adaptability.

Combined Powers Fully Autonomous Tractor
Combined Powers Fully Autonomous Tractor © Lemken/Krone

John Deere

As a pioneer in the industry, John Deere continues to push the boundaries of innovation with its groundbreaking forays into autonomous technologies and vehicles.

One of the most exciting breakthroughs from John Deere is the guided tractor and sprayer designed for orchards and similar applications. These intelligent machines feature automatic re-filling capabilities, enhancing efficiency and reducing the need for constant operator oversight.

John Deere has also unveiled a purpose-built driverless sprayer, specifically configured for high-clearance maize spraying, utilizing four track units for superior maneuverability. This innovation caters to the specialized needs of various crops, showcasing the adaptability of autonomous technology in the agricultural sector.

Recently, we have observed how the AgriTech industry worldwide has embraced electric-powered machinery. John Deere has not lagged behind in this aspect, introducing a remarkable 500kW (670hp) electric-drive single-axle autonomous tractor. This versatile tractor can seamlessly transition between wheels and tracks when coupled with cultivators, drills, and similar implements. This development resonates with the global shift towards sustainable and eco-friendly farming practices.

However, the revelation that truly turned heads was John Deere’s announcement in January 2022 regarding the imminent release of an autonomous version of its revered 8R series tractor in the USA. While the order book remains closed for now, the anticipation is palpable. The initial focus for this autonomous marvel will be chisel cultivation work, featuring the most potent model in the 8R series lineup.

The 8R 410, boasting 443hp for draft work and 458hp for PTO, transport, and applications with intense hydraulic demands, maintains the familiar configuration of its conventional counterpart. Still, it incorporates a groundbreaking feature—an array of six pairs of stereo cameras that facilitate 360-degree obstacle detection and distance calculation.

John Deere's Single-axle Electric Tractor
John Deere’s Single-axle Electric Tractor © John Deere


FarmDroid’s FD20 stands out as a specialist tool carrier dedicated to precision sowing and weeding. Operating predominantly in the United Kingdom, it is finding its niche in organic sugar beet, fodder beet, and vegetable production.

The FarmDroid FD20, available in both trike and four-wheel configurations, showcases a commitment to sustainable energy sources. This marvel of engineering harnesses battery-electric power, fortified by an expansive solar panel canopy. But what truly sets it apart are the two unique autonomous power unit concepts currently being explored by Horsch, a pioneer in agricultural technology.

One concept takes the form of a driverless tracked unit that bears a striking resemblance to the traditional field tractor. The other, a formidable large tool carrier-type machine, is no less impressive. While official specifications remain somewhat elusive, insiders suggest that the Robo independent power unit, despite its compact size, boasts a formidable 450hp diesel engine. Equipped with either a hydrostatic drive or a hydro-mechanical “vario” transmission, it offers remarkable versatility.

The Robo’s ingenuity extends to its remote manual control for easy setup and a convenient pull-out drawbar at the front, allowing effortless towing to and from the field. But it’s the field trials featuring the Robo operating a trailed Maestro precision planter in a close-coupled configuration that have truly turned heads. This configuration effectively transforms the Robo into a self-propelled outfit, with the tracked unit shouldering a significant portion of the seed cart’s weight, offering efficiency like never before.

FarmDroid FD20
FarmDroid FD20 weed even before crops emerges © FarmDroid



Kubota, a name synonymous with agricultural machinery, made waves in 2020 when they unveiled the Kubota X, a four-track electric tractor concept that embodied the future of farming. Fast forward to today, and Kubota is on the cusp of turning this vision into reality by testing a fleet of autonomy-capable AgriRobo wheeled tractors.

Japan is facing a unique crisis with an aging population of farmers and a reluctance among younger generations to step into the shoes of their predecessors. This demographic challenge threatens the sustainability of agriculture in the country, but Kubota is determined to find a solution.

In addition to their iconic rice transplanter and rice combine, Kubota has introduced the MR1000A, a 100hp tractor equipped with an impressive array of self-driving guidance and sensor technologies. This innovation aims to ease the farm labor shortage by providing farmers with cutting-edge tools that enhance productivity and reduce their dependence on manual labor.

100hp MR1000A AgriRobo tractor Kubota Tractor
100hp MR1000A AgriRobo tractor Kubota Tractor © Kubota


One of Horsch’s visionary projects is the Robo independent power unit. This compact yet formidable machine is shrouded in secrecy, but some intriguing details have emerged. At its heart, it boasts a robust 450hp diesel engine, coupled with either hydrostatic drive or a hydro-mechanical “vario” transmission. This powerful combination ensures that the Robo is more than capable of tackling the demands of modern agriculture.

What sets the Robo apart is its versatility. With remote manual control for setup and a front-mounted drawbar, it can be effortlessly towed to and from the field, making it as adaptable as it is powerful. In a fascinating twist, the Robo has been put through its paces in field trials, where it operated in conjunction with a trailed Maestro precision planter. This close-coupled configuration effectively transforms the Robo into a self-propelled unit, with the tracked platform bearing the weight of the seed cart.

Meanwhile, Horsch’s Brazilian division is making waves with a gantry-like machine designed for precision planting. This 24-meter Maestro precision planter, tailored for maize, is perched atop four large-diameter swivel-steer drive wheels with hydrostatic propulsion motors. The design’s wide frame, which transitions seamlessly from the yard to the field, houses a central power unit flanked by hoppers on either side, with planter units suspended beneath.

While these innovations are undeniably impressive, what’s even more intriguing is the potential for a commercial rollout. Horsch has been collaborating with Trimble to develop an autonomy package for self-propelled sprayers. This partnership extends beyond just autonomous control; it encompasses full workflow automation, bridging the gap between office and field.

In its initial phase, the collaboration aims to automate planning, machine control, and logistics for sprayer operators. This holistic approach not only enhances machine performance but also alleviates the operator’s workload and minimizes the risk of errors. It’s a significant step towards realizing fully autonomous agricultural machines.

Horsch’s Robo Tractor with a Maestro precision planter © Horsch

Raven Industries

One of Raven’s groundbreaking contributions to the field is the development of two systems tailored to enhance the productivity of US growers. First in line is the OmniDrive system, a marvel of technology that empowers combine operators to effortlessly synchronize with automated grain tractors and trailers. This synchronization feature not only streamlines operations but also alleviates the burden on farmers during the demanding harvest season. This concept isn’t entirely new in the AgriTech world, as it builds on the foundation laid by similar systems globally.

The second jewel in Raven’s crown is the Cart Automation system. Unlike OmniDrive, this system focuses solely on speed and heading synchronization. Its beauty lies in its versatility, as it can be retrofitted to virtually any make of machinery and adapted to various harvesting tasks, including sugar beet farming. This adaptability showcases Raven’s commitment to providing solutions that cater to a wide spectrum of agricultural needs.

Raven Industries hasn’t limited its innovation to retrofit solutions alone. In a significant stride towards full autonomy, they have recently unveiled a comprehensive solution for the Case IH Trident 5550 self-propelled fertilizer spreader. This development resonates with the global trend of automating agricultural equipment, as we’ve seen similar strides in precision farming systems across continents.

While Raven’s Autonomy division primarily focuses on electronics and software, they do have a vehicle in their portfolio—the OmniPower 3200 tool carrier. Originally developed in collaboration with Dot Technology and Seedmaster in Canada, this vehicle boasts hydrostatic drive, four-wheel steering, and interchangeable modules for sowing, spreading, and spraying. It’s a testament to Raven’s commitment to diversification and ensuring they offer comprehensive solutions to their clientele.

Raven AutoCart
Raven AutoCart works by synchronizing with harvesters and trailers © Raven

To sum it up, we have seen that in this era of technological advancement, the agriculture technology industry is witnessing a transformation that promises increased efficiency, reduced labor dependency, and enhanced sustainability. These autonomous farm vehicles are not just a glimpse into the future of agriculture; they are the future, working tirelessly to meet the demands of modern farming while protecting our precious soils. As we look back on the journey so far, it’s clear that the AgriTech industry is on an unstoppable trajectory towards smarter, more sustainable agriculture.



Increased tax on alcohol, sugar-sweetened products, and tobacco are on the horizon in Kenya as we look ahead to 2024. The newly proposed taxes are the government’s proactive measures to promote healthier lifestyles and discourage excessive consumption, aligning with global efforts to combat the rising tide of diet-related non-communicable diseases.

Historically, studies have linked excessive sugar consumption to a host of health issues, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, which is increasingly prevalent in Kenya and across Africa. In line with this concern, the Kenyan government is planning to reevaluate its taxation approach for sugar-sweetened non-alcoholic beverages. The new proposal aims to tax these products based on their sugar content, effectively creating an economic disincentive for their consumption. This move is part of the government’s broader strategy to combat obesity and related non-communicable diseases.

This development follows the earlier introduction of a tax on locally manufactured sugar confectionery, including white chocolate, in July 2023. This tax imposition was also justified as a means to promote healthier living.

Targeting Alcohol Consumption for Public Health Benefits

Alcohol consumption, too, is in the government’s crosshairs due to its association with various health risks, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems. The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) has further stressed the risks by linking alcohol consumption to injuries, such as motor vehicle accidents, falls, drownings, and burns.

Enroll in the Agricultural Health and Medicine Course and earn your certificate

In the upcoming fiscal year, consumers of spirits and other high-alcohol-content products can expect an upward revision in taxes. The Treasury has explicitly stated that this tax hike is intended to discourage their consumption, given the elevated health risks they pose. The adjustment in tax rates will be guided by quantitative analysis to determine the optimal rates for each alcoholic product.

Tobacco Products Also Under Scrutiny

Taxes on cigarettes and tobacco-related products are also set to increase as part of the broader strategy to promote healthier living. This will apply to both filtered and non-filtered cigarettes, as well as other tobacco products. The objective is to harmonize excise duty rates across all tobacco products, ensuring fairness and equal treatment in taxation.

The government’s rationale is clear – the negative health consequences associated with these products necessitate action. Tax rates will be determined based on the extent of these health consequences, as well as recommendations from an ongoing study conducted in collaboration with East African Community partner states.

These changes, outlined in the draft three-year tax revenue strategy beginning in July 2024, will inevitably lead to higher prices for the affected products and will unquestionably have an impact on consumer behaviors, industry dynamics, and, ultimately, the country’s GDP.

READ: Kenya Implements Stringent Measures for Duty-Free Sugar Imports



Kenya has shipped its inaugural avocados consignment to India, an occasion presided over by Kello Harsama, the Principal Secretary of the State Department for Crops Development, on September 16, 2023. During the event, Harsama emphasized the government’s unwavering dedication to strengthening international partnerships in agriculture, adding that the milestone was not just significant for Kenya but also for India, marking the fruitful outcome of their persistent bilateral negotiations. He stated that the move underscores Kenya’s status as a leading avocado exporter in Africa and the sixth-largest in the world.

This achievement aligns with Kenya’s pursuit of exploring new markets for its agricultural produce. Harsama affirmed that Kenya will continue to seek more markets for avocado farmers in line with the spirit of the government’s ‘bottom-up’ economic transformation agenda.

Enroll to the Avocado Production Course and earn your certificate

Kenya’s ascent in the global avocado export landscape has been remarkable. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Kenya now ranks among the top 15 avocado exporters globally. While Mexico leads the pack with a staggering 2.4 million tons of production, Kenya’s presence in this league is a testament to its agricultural prowess. The country rubs shoulders with the likes of Colombia, Peru, Indonesia, and the Dominican Republic in the upper echelons of avocado exporting nations.

Among those who witnessed the flagging off of the avocado export to India were Ms. Namgya C. Khampa, the High Commissioner for India in Kenya, and Ambassador Willy Bett, Kenya’s High Commissioner in India, symbolizing the strengthening of diplomatic and trade ties between the two nations through the lens of agriculture.

Kenya’s foray into avocado exports to India echoes a broader narrative of the continent’s potential in global markets, a move that aligns with advancing the nation’s agricultural agenda.


September 17, 2023 BLOGEAGMARK NEWS0


The pressing issue of soil degradation is reverberating across the globe, casting a shadow on the future of agriculture. Recent assessments by international bodies, including the European Commission Joint Research Centre – European Soil Data Centre, have sounded alarm bells. The consensus is clear: our soils, especially those dedicated to agriculture, are facing unprecedented stress. The situation is compounded by urbanization, infrastructure development, erosion, pollution, poor nutrient management, and the loss of organic matter. In Africa, where agriculture is the backbone of many economies, this crisis poses a dire threat. To understand the gravity of this challenge, we must draw upon past experiences in the African agriculture industry.

Past Stories from Kenya and Africa

In Kenya and throughout Africa, the story of soil degradation has been unfolding for years. Rapid urbanization, driven by population growth and the demand for infrastructure, has led to the conversion of valuable agricultural land into concrete jungles. This trend mirrors the global phenomenon mentioned in the European Commission’s assessment.

Erosion and organic matter loss have plagued African soils, impacting crop yields and farmer livelihoods. Kenya, for instance, has faced severe challenges with soil erosion, particularly in its hilly terrains. The implications for food security are evident, as erosion leaves behind infertile, rocky landscapes where productive agriculture once thrived.

Moreover, climate change exacerbates these woes. Rising temperatures lead to higher mineralization rates, accelerating the breakdown of soil organic matter. The result is less resilient and infertile soil, making crops more susceptible to drought—a phenomenon affecting many African regions.

The Road to Redemption

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations warning that the world’s topsoil could vanish within 60 years is a chilling reminder of the urgency we face. The African agriculture industry, along with regulatory bodies, non-governmental organizations, and growers, must unite to tackle these challenges.

Technology emerges as a key ally in this battle. The journey to soil health involves sustainable land management, technical innovations, and heightened awareness. Drawing from previous success stories and lessons, the African agriculture sector must leverage technology to avert disaster.

Defining Soil Health – Before delving into technology’s role, let’s define “soil health.” It is the soil’s capacity to sustain a thriving ecosystem that supports plants, animals, and people. This concept goes beyond traditional approaches and delves into the intricate world of soil microbiomes.

The Four Pillars of Soil Health are:

  1. Vegetative Cover: Keeping the soil covered with vegetation.
  2. Plant Biodiversity: Encouraging a variety of plant species.
  3. Living Root Systems: Ensuring a live root system throughout the season.
  4. Minimizing Soil Disturbance: Reducing human-induced soil disruption.

These pillars lay the foundation for soil health and play a pivotal role in fostering agricultural sustainability.

Technology’s Role in Soil Health

Technology serves as a bridge to improving soil health on a larger scale. Making soil data accessible and understandable is vital for prompt action. Currently, there are innovations for agro testing that are being developed to help farmers measure, manage, and improve soil health efficiently. Crop input manufacturers are also stepping up, introducing products that optimize food production while enhancing soil health.

Changing Attitudes and Mindsets

The first step toward preserving soil health is acknowledging the issue. The widespread recognition of soil degradation’s severity in the last decade has driven action across the industry. Crop input providers are developing solutions that are kinder to soils, aligning with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

In this battle, technology plays a significant role. Companies like Biome Makers are pioneering tools to revolutionize how farmers interact with soil. By processing vast data inputs and employing genomics and artificial intelligence, they identify microbial biomarkers, offering insights into soil function.

We must keep in mind that soil is a living ecosystem, and its health is paramount to food security and environmental sustainability. While challenges persist, the African agriculture industry must remain resilient and resourceful.

Soil By the Numbers

  • A tablespoon of soil teems with more organisms than there are people on Earth.
  • It takes a minimum of 500 years to form one inch of topsoil.
  • One gram of soil hosts 5,000 different types of bacteria.
  • Only 0.01% of the Earth’s water is held in soil.

The battle to safeguard our soil is a race against time. Failure to act now will have far-reaching consequences, but with determination and innovation, we can nurture the very foundation of our sustenance – the soil.



Brookside, a milk processor in Kenya, has disbursed a staggering 711 million Kenya Shillings, an estimated $4.9 million, to farmers in Kenya’s North Rift region for their raw milk deliveries. The payment by Brookside is aimed at growing the dairy industry in Kenya.

Leading the pack in this payout is West Pokot, where dairy producers received a handsome sum of 197.8 million Kenya Shillings from Brookside. Trans Nzoia closely followed, with an impressive 183.9 million Kenya Shillings disbursed to farmers. Uasin Gishu, Nandi, and Elgeyo Marakwet counties also reaped the rewards, with payouts of Ksh.171.3 million, Ksh.126.1 million, and Ksh.31.9 million, respectively.

These figures demonstrate Brookside’s substantial financial investment in the North Rift region, stressing the economic significance of dairy farming in this part of Kenya.

Mr. Emmanuel Kabaki, the General Manager in charge of milk procurement at Brookside, emphasized the company’s unwavering commitment to working hand in hand with farmers to elevate dairy farming into a full-fledged commercial enterprise, offering guaranteed incomes to farmers. In his statement, Mr. Kabaki stated that, Brookside’s expanded processing capacity and aggressive product sales campaigns ensure that it remains a guaranteed market for milk from farmers. He further added that Brookside procures 100 per cent of all contracted milk volumes from its farmers, and does not ration supply, even in the seasons of surplus.

READ: Kenya’s ‘Omena’ Exports to China Surge, Reflecting Growing Trade Ties

In its efforts to promote sustainability and climate-smart practices, Mr. Kabaki highlighted that Brookside’s is actively promoting agroforestry on dairy farms by encouraging the planting of trees. He added that the company has established fodder resource centers in its raw milk bulking stations, including one in Kitale, for fodder multiplication and distribution to farmers, and to mitigate the impact of unpredictable weather patterns.

Mr. Kabaki urged farmers to conserve feed during the anticipated El-Niño rains for use during the dry season, adding that Brookside is piloting a semen and liquid nitrogen distribution program to enhance cow breeds, ultimately boosting milk production.



In a significant milestone for Kenya’s fisheries sector, the nation has recently exported a substantial shipment of 52 tonnes of Silver Cyprinid, locally known as ‘omena,’ to Changsha Huanghua International Airport in China’s Hunan Province. This achievement is a direct result of a bilateral agreement inked between the two countries in January 2022, demonstrating the mutual benefits stemming from international cooperation.

This remarkable feat finds its roots in a broader narrative of strengthening trade ties between Kenya and China. The recent export success resonates with the ongoing efforts in Kenya and Africa as a whole to expand their agricultural exports and tap into international markets.

China’s commitment to importing freshwater fish from Kenya, as stated by Wu Peng, Director-General of the Department of African Affairs at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, signifies a significant shift in trade dynamics. Kenya’s export of anchovies to China marks the culmination of previous developments in the fish industry, highlighting China’s growing appetite for African agricultural products, ranging from anchovies to other fish products.

In June, Kenya commenced the export of anchovies to China, starting with a 315kg batch. The landmark event took place during the third China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo, emphasizing China’s determination to diversify its sources of high-quality food and agricultural products. This mirrors previous reports on the evolving trade relationships between China and Africa, where African nations strive to meet China’s increasing demand for their produce.

READ: Kenya Ramps Up support for Fish Industry in a Move to Boost GDP

The successful export of Kenyan ‘omena’ was facilitated by Huawen Food, a Kenyan subsidiary of the Jinzai Food Group. The company, based in Kwale on Kenya’s coast, collaborates with local fishermen to source ‘omena’ for their processing plant.

Huawen Food’s value addition to ‘omena’ involves the infusion of various ingredients, including vegetable oil, onions, spices, sauce, and chili, to create snacks in 12-gram packages. The process has resulted in a final product that is distributed in China and sold in more than 30 countries worldwide, underscoring the global reach of African agricultural products.

In Kenya, these value-added anchovies are available at selected supermarkets, priced at an average of $6 per packet. The move towards value addition aligns with the ongoing efforts in Kenya’s agricultural sector to increase the value of their exports and capture a larger share of the international market.

Anchovies have found a versatile place in Chinese cuisine, featuring in a wide range of dishes from stir-fries to street snacks, and salads to heartier meals like anchovy fried rice. The trend showcases the adaptability of African agricultural products to diverse culinary traditions.

However, this success story also highlights the challenges facing Kenya’s local fish industry. Dwindling fish stocks have led to a heavy reliance on Chinese fish imports, valued at over 2 billion Kenyan Shillings and accounting for more than 80 percent of the Kenyan fish import market. This echos calls for the imposition of a 20 percent excise duty on imported fish to safeguard the interests of local fishermen.



Image Credit: Reddit


In a bold move to bolster Kenya’s economy, the Kenya Fish Marketing Authority (KFMA) has unveiled a plan to substantially elevate the fish industry’s contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product. The KFMA’s strategic vision is to expand the sector’s contribution by a staggering 80%, skyrocketing from its current $204.4 million to a remarkable $1 billion within the next five years. The plan is set to revolutionize Kenya’s fish and fisheries products sector, potentially becoming a transformative force in the country’s agricultural landscape.

The commitment to this target was ardently expressed by Martin Ogindo, Chair of the KFMA Board, who detailed the authority’s comprehensive approach to boosting fish production and consumption across the nation. With the world gradually recognizing the profound health benefits associated with fish, the consumption rate is still not very high in Kenya.

Drawing from previous experiences and industry reports, it’s evident that the challenges facing the fish industry in Kenya are not unique. Similar issues have plagued the tea industry, another vital agricultural sector in the country. Over the years, both industries have grappled with the need for innovative solutions to enhance production, minimize losses, and improve quality. The KFMA’s strategies align with these longstanding concerns, illustrating a dedication to learning from past experiences to drive future success.

KFMA’s outlined strategies include leveraging research and technical expertise for evidence-based decision-making, introducing innovative value-added fish products, reducing post-harvest losses, and enhancing quality assurance standards for fish products. This is a keen reflection of the importance of streamlining the industry’s value chains, in a quest for efficiency and quality.

There have been calls to explore opportunities for technology transfer in the blue economy sector, which encompasses fisheries resources, for better yields and product quality.

The Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), through its College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (COANRE) has embarked on research efforts to promote sustainable exploitation of blue economy resources. This includes groundbreaking innovations in aquaculture and human capital development.

JKUAT will be collaborating with KFMA in upgrading the value chain of silver cyprinid fish, locally known as ‘omena’. This collaborative project is part of a broader regional initiative named “Strengthening Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Ecosystem for Inclusive Rural Transformation and Livelihoods in Eastern Africa (AIRTEA),” funded by the EU and coordinated by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). Noteworthy achievements from this partnership include the deployment of hybrid (solar and biomass) greenhouse fish drying units, effectively reducing post-harvest losses at various locations.

Despite the formidable challenges facing the sector, including low technology adoption, uneven distribution of gains, a lack of value-addition technologies, and poor beach access roads, fish production in Kenya reached 163,702 tons in 2021. However, per capita fish consumption remains at 4.5 kg/person/year, below both the African and global averages. This situation mirrors the hurdles that other producers face in terms of distribution, access to markets, and value addition.

The ongoing development of value-added silver cyprinid-based products under the EU-funded project, led by a team at JKUAT, is intended to stimulate fish consumption throughout the nation. Kenya’s 445 documented fish landing points offer vast potential for integrated product innovation and value addition in processing facilities across Kenya.


In a concerning revelation for Kenyan agriculture, farmers, horticultural workers, and users of open-source water systems are increasingly finding themselves at risk due to the pervasive use of toxic pesticides imported from China and Europe. These two global giants are the primary exporters of farm chemicals to Kenya, where the consequences of this practice are now becoming alarmingly clear.

Recent data released by the Heinrich Boll Foundation, an organization dedicated to environmental and food security advocacy, has shed light on a deeply troubling issue: Kenyan consumers are unwittingly ingesting food tainted with residues of pesticides that were banned in Europe over a decade ago but continue to be sold to Kenyan farmers. This report, titled “Toxic Business: Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) in Kenya”, highlights that among the 310 pesticides investigated, more than half were found to contain substances like carbosulfan, known for its potential to harm critical human organs.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified carbosulfan exposure as a catalyst for liver and kidney failure, along with detrimental effects on protective layers in the human intestinal lining. Additionally, despite WHO and UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) endorsements, glyphosate has been linked to cancer in humans, according to research by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2016.

Equally concerning is the continued presence of carbofuran, labeled differently in Kenya but listed as a banned substance by the Pest Control Products Board (PCPB), both in Kenya and the US. These three substances—carbosulfan, glyphosate, and carbofuran—dominate the Kenyan pesticide market.

Today, Kenyan farmers are applying billions of liters of these toxic pesticides across their maize, wheat, coffee, potato, and tomato fields, particularly in the Rift Valley, Central, Western, and Nyanza regions. Shockingly, many of these readily available pesticides have been scientifically linked to cancer, genetic defects, fertility issues, and harm to unborn children.

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This thriving toxic pesticide industry costs Kenyan farmers up to USD 72.7 million annually (approximately Ksh.10.7 billion), sustaining the importation of these lethal chemicals while regulatory oversight falls short of reining it in. The report reveals that imported pesticides and fungicides are being used on over 635,000 hectares of agricultural land, implicating over 73 multinational agrochemical companies in this hazardous importation saga.

The report further underscores a stark reality: only a mere two percent of the total pesticide volume used in Kenya consists of sustainable biopesticides, while hazardous pesticides dominate at 76 percent. The pricing of Highly Hazardous Pesticides makes them more attractive per hectare compared to biopesticides, which are primarily used on beans destined for the European export market.

The consequences extend beyond human health. Chlorpyrifos, for instance, banned in the US due to its profound effects, continues to be used to control aphids in wheat-growing regions, negatively impacting the nervous systems of children and posing a threat to aquatic life. Even around Lake Naivasha, where flowers are predominantly grown, chlorpyrifos remains approved for aphid control, endangering the water supply and fisheries that local communities depend on.

This toxic pesticide issue is not isolated; it intersects with the nation’s food security concerns amid climate change impacts and drought. With genetically modified foods and their safety debated vigorously, neither GMOs nor the existing food supply chain assure Kenya’s food security.

READ: Indiscriminate Antibiotic Use in Agriculture Threatens Human Immune System, Study Warns

While the court halted the Kenyan government decision to import GMO foodstuffs, the ultimate decision now rests with Kenyan citizens who did not participate in the lifting of an 11-year-old ban. Climate change, coupled with the emergence of new pests and diseases, is forcing both commercial and smallholder farmers to resort to increasingly lethal pesticides, exacerbating the risks to human health and the environment.

In 2021, the African Development Bank (AfDB) conducted a survey in sub-Saharan Africa, revealing that smallholder farmers are turning to harmful pesticides to adapt to climate change, with these chemicals posing substantial risks to human health and the environment. The AfDB recommends a comprehensive ban on their manufacture, trade, and use.

As Kenya seeks to enhance its agricultural output to address the impact of drought in the North, these revelations about pesticide-laden foodstuffs on the market raise serious questions about both the safety and security of the nation’s food supply. The urgent need for stricter pesticide regulation and sustainable farming practices cannot be overstated, with lessons from this predicament echoing throughout Kenya and the broader African agricultural landscape.


Photo Credit: NMG


The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has introduced stringent regulations governing the importation of sugar under the State’s recently gazetted duty-free import window, which came into effect on August 9, 2023. The move by KEBS is aimed at taming the sugar production deficit hounding the Kenyan market, and stabilizing sugar prices, which had soared to a record range of Ksh.225 to Ksh.250 per kilogram by mid-2023 due to a severe shortage of the commodity.

In response to these soaring prices, the Kenyan Cabinet authorized an extension of duty-free sugar imports as a temporary measure to mitigate the crisis. However, with the anticipated influx of substantial sugar consignments, KEBS has taken proactive measures to thwart potential exploitation by unscrupulous traders.

The new regulations will require all imported sugar shipments possessing Certificates of Conformity (CoCs) to undergo mandatory re-inspection and testing at the port of entry, a service that will be provided free of charge. This inspection will be carried out in the presence of the importer or their appointed agent and is aimed at verifying compliance with the relevant quality and safety standards.

In instances where sugar consignments are shipped from countries where KEBS has engaged inspection companies, but they lack the necessary CoCs, the imports will be subject to inspection upon arrival. This service will be offered at a fee equivalent to five percent of the approved customs values. Additionally, sugar imports originating from countries without appointed inspection agents will continue to undergo destination inspection, with the importer bearing the cost of inspection, equivalent to 0.6 percent of the approved customs value, along with any applicable testing fees.

READ: KTDA Directors Set to Approve Bonuses to Tea Farmers

This new development in the sugar industry follows the Agriculture and Food Authority’s decision to suspend sugar milling operations earlier in July to allow sugar factories to address the pressing issue of sugarcane shortages, which have had a cascading effect on the industry’s overall production.

The biting sugarcane crisis in the Western and Nyanza regions of Kenya is a consequence of neglect and inadequate support for the sugar industry by key stakeholders. The two regions support the bulk of commercial sugarcane production in Kenya, in addition to other areas such as the Rift Valley and Coastal areas. More than 300,000 farmers supply sugarcane to various millers, with over 94 percent of this supply coming from out-growers, while the remainder is sourced from nucleus estates owned by milling companies.

Kenya currently boasts 16 sugar mills with a collective processing capacity of 51,450 metric tons of sugarcane per day. However, the actual capacity utilization stands at a modest 56 percent, as indicated by projections from the Ministry of Agriculture. This underutilization reflects the industry’s inability to reach its full potential due to numerous challenges, including inadequate infrastructure, a lack of investment, and recurring sugarcane shortages, all systemic issues that have plagued the sugar industry in Kenya for years.


Directors representing the 71 tea factories managed by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) are gearing up for a crucial series of meetings this September to focus on the review and approval of their respective factories’ annual financial accounts for the year 2022/2023. The timing of these deliberations is pivotal, as they precede the eagerly awaited declaration of the second and final payment to farmers scheduled for October 2023.

KTDA announced that the directors’ primary agenda will revolve around assessing the performance of their individual factories during the financial year that concluded in June 2023. It is only after this comprehensive evaluation that the directors will unveil the second payment rates pertinent to their specific factories.

The backdrop against which these discussions are taking place has been marked by twin challenges for the tea industry in Kenya. First, a severe drought has plagued the tea-producing regions, significantly affecting farm output. Secondly, the global tea market has posed a formidable challenge due to the limited access to the US dollar by key tea-buying markets. In his statement to stakeholders, the KTDA Managing Director gave assurances that the organization remains unwavering in its commitment to ensure that farmers receive just compensation for their unwavering dedication and hard work.

This announcement harks back to the January disbursement by KTDA, which saw a total of Ksh.5.5 billion distributed. This sum encompassed Ksh.2.8 billion as payment for December’s green leaf deliveries and an additional Ksh.2.7 billion disbursed as mini-bonuses. These mini-bonuses were allocated to factories whose directors had passed resolutions to implement them. During this disbursement, farmers received bonuses ranging from Ksh.5 to Ksh.10 per kilogram of green leaf delivered to their respective factories for the six months leading up to December the previous year.

READ: Kenya’s Agriculture Sector Confronts Surging Interest Rates

According to KTDA, it adheres to a two-step payment model, encompassing monthly payments, interim payments (mini-bonuses), and a final payment (bonus) contingent upon the performance of each individual factory. The current meetings to determine bonus payments are being convened at a juncture when preliminary data reveals a marginal decline in both green leaf production and sales prices at the Mombasa tea auction.

Green leaf volumes delivered to factories managed by KTDA dwindled by 8.5 percent in the year concluding in June 2023, plummeting from 1.3 billion kilos to 1.1 billion kilos when compared to the preceding year. This decline is attributed to the enduring drought conditions that have plagued the region, leading to decreased farm output. In addition, the prices fetched at the tea auction experienced a modest decline of three percent. The average price per kilo across all factories stood at $2.7 (Ksh.394) during the 2022/2023 financial year, in contrast to $2.8 (Ksh.409) recorded in the previous year.

READ: Nairobi Coffee Exchange Auction Resumes After Brief Suspension

These recent developments in Kenya’s tea industry echo the recurring challenges faced by the sector in recent years. The ongoing drought conditions serve as a stark reminder of the vulnerability of tea farming to climatic fluctuations. In the past, we have witnessed similar struggles as farmers grappled with unpredictable weather patterns, resulting in diminished yields and financial strains.

In addition, the international tea market’s dynamics have proven to be a persistent challenge. Limited access to the US dollar by key tea-buying markets has often left Kenyan tea exports vulnerable to currency fluctuations and market uncertainties. The need for diversification and risk mitigation strategies in tea trading has been a recurring theme in discussions surrounding the industry’s future.


In recent years, Kenya’s tech startup scene has garnered substantial attention and investment, with hopes of realizing the Silicon Savannah dream. However, beneath the surface, there are unsettling signs of distress, as at least eight Kenyan-born tech startups have shuttered their doors in the past two years, while a ninth appears to be teetering on the brink despite substantial investor funding. We delve into the challenges faced by these startups and seek to shed light on why they may be heading towards what some have termed a “sinking ship.”

The Startup Saga

A comprehensive analysis by the Business Daily published on September 11, 2023, reveals a grim picture: eight startups, fueled by a total investment of over Ksh.11.2 billion, have crumbled in the face of adversity. The situation becomes even more concerning when we examine the case of Twiga Foods, an agri-tech firm that has raised an astounding Ksh.23.4 billion (USD 157.1 million) in venture capital. Recently, Twiga Foods announced plans to trim its workforce by a third, citing a harsh funding climate.

As quoted by the newsroom, Twiga’s CEO, Peter Njonjo, lamented the funding drought that has enveloped the market, despite the company’s impressive cumulative funding of $160 million since its inception in 2013. This raises an important question: Are funding challenges the sole culprits behind the demise of these startups?

Beyond Funding Drought

While many startups point fingers at the funding drought, a closer look at available data and resounding sentiments from previous interviews with founders suggests a more nuanced narrative. It appears that factors beyond funding may be contributing to the ‘sinking ship’ phenomenon.

One of the reasons is business viability. Some startups may have struggled due to questions surrounding the viability of their business models. It is essential for these companies to offer unique solutions that address tangible problems in the market. Without a solid foundation for providing value, even the most significant investment can’t guarantee success.

Secondly, the ‘short-term vision’ effect is another reason, as some entrepreneurs may be too focused on building businesses for valuation and hoping for buyouts. Without continuous innovation and operational models that keep changing with the tech landscape and trends, it is almost impossible for any business to thrive in today’s tech-driven world. It essentially boils down to sustainability and long-term planning, as well as a deep understanding of market dynamics, which are crucial for survival.

Existing Support System

The success of any business is directly proportional to the business ecosystem in which it operates. A perfect example is what is currently happening between China and Apple Inc., which has resulted in a loss of an estimated $30 billion for the company—a story for another day.

The existing support system and business environment play a crucial role in the success or failure of businesses, especially startups. Recent developments, including the introduction of new taxations and low interest rates, have added to the challenges faced by these young businesses. While taxes are necessary to fund public services and infrastructure, excessive or poorly designed taxes can burden startups, making it difficult for them to grow and thrive.

One would say that the current tax systems have created a financial burden and strain on startups, limiting their financial resources and making it challenging to invest in growth and innovation. Investors may have also been spooked by the new stringent fiscal policy moves by the government, as well as low interest rates, and potentially this may have had a dipping effect on the flow of capital into the startup ecosystem, increasing investors’ appetite in other emerging markets.

Despite Kenya’s President being a vocal advocate for the nation’s ambition to become Africa’s ICT hub, the recent setbacks in the startup ecosystem call for a reevaluation of the Silicon Savannah dream. While ambitions are high, the practical challenges faced by startups demand a more comprehensive approach to fostering innovation.

The Collateral Damage

Several startups, including Sendy, Gearbox, Zumi, SkyGarden, Notify Logistics, Kune, BRCK, and WeFarm, have succumbed to these challenges. These entities collectively raised substantial sums of money before their unfortunate closure. Sendy, for instance, secured $26.5 million in funding before it had to make significant cutbacks.

Despite the challenges, some entrepreneurs are still bullish and are hoping to regain solid footing in the market by curving a path forward through cost-cutting strategies. The troubles facing Kenyan agricultural and other startups are likely not ending soon based on the statistics and trends, underscoring the need for a holistic approach that combines visionary leadership, sustainable business models, and robust long-term planning. Kenya’s Silicon Savannah dream may still be within reach, but it will require careful navigation through the turbulent waters of the tech startup world. Only then can the nation’s ambition to uplift livelihoods through technology and innovation gain the impetus it deserves.



In a monumental gathering of minds and a rallying cry for change, the Africa Food Systems Forum (AGRF) 2023 Summit officially commenced today in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. With the theme “Recover, Regenerate, Act: Africa’s Solutions to Food Systems Transformation,” the event places emphasis on youth and women at the forefront of rebuilding and revitalizing food systems across the continent.

The Summit, which is scheduled to run from September 5th to 8th, 2023, has garnered attention and participation from a diverse range of stakeholders, including policymakers, experts, farmers, youth advocates, and women leaders. It seeks to address the profound challenges facing Africa’s food systems while charting a path towards a more sustainable and resilient future.

The theme of the Summit encapsulates a comprehensive roadmap for achieving a transformation in Africa’s food systems through recovery, regenerative, and action pathways – geared towards shaping the future of agriculture in Africa, with a focus on recovering from crises, regenerating natural resources, and taking decisive action for transformative change.

A notable aspect of the Summit is its strong emphasis on youth and women as catalysts for positive change. Recognizing that they represent a substantial portion of the agricultural workforce and hold immense potential, the AGRF summit will provide a platform for these groups and other experts to share their perspectives, innovations, and solutions.

The Summit also sheds a spotlight on the role of digital technologies and innovation in enhancing agricultural productivity, improving access to markets, and strengthening resilience in food systems. The integration of cutting-edge solutions is viewed as crucial for advancing Africa’s food security agenda.

As the Africa Food Systems Forum 2023 Summit unfolds over the next few days, it promises to be a pivotal moment in the journey toward sustainable, equitable, and resilient food systems on the African continent. Africa’s future on food security is at the balance, and the world is watching with anticipation.


In a significant stride towards enhancing trade relations and agricultural growth, the US government, in collaboration with Kenstate, a leading Kenyan coconut processing company, has announced a joint investment project amounting to $1.6 million. The project aims to not only expand Kenstate’s exports to the United States but also create substantial market opportunities for over 4,500 Kenyan coconut farmers.

Supported by Feed the Future and Prosper Africa funding, facilitated by the United States Agency for International Development, this strategic initiative is poised to uplift Kenstate’s processing capabilities by an impressive 67 percent, enabling the firm to process up to 50,000 coconuts daily.

Meg Whitman, the US Ambassador to Kenya, highlighted the transformative impact of such collaborations, stating, that partnerships like this enhance trade, transforms lives, and combats food waste and its impacts on climate change. Whitman also added that sustainable growth and international collaboration are key to the prosperity of both Kenya and the United States.

One of the project’s key objectives is to significantly reduce food loss and wastage. Over the next two years, the initiative seeks to eliminate a staggering 32,500 liters of wastage. At the same time, the project is set to generate approximately 90 full-time employment opportunities and enlist 1,500 new growers as suppliers, thus catalyzing economic opportunities for Kenyan farmers.

The collaboration also paves the way for Kentaste, the coconut processor, to establish strong ties with major US retailers. These retailers are poised to carry Kentaste’s premium coconut water products, thereby expanding access to the US market for Kenyan coconut offerings.

This strategic venture couldn’t come at a better time for Kenya, as the country experiences stable demand for local processing and export of coconuts. The United States is a primary importer of Kenyan nuts, followed by Germany and the Netherlands, underscoring the global demand for high-quality coconut products from the region.

The Kenyan coconut processor is known for producing and distributing an array of coconut-based products, including coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut flour, virgin coconut oil, and desiccated coconut. With a strong commitment to sustainable practices, Kentaste collaborates with a network of some 2,700 smallholder farmers, many of whom are organic and fair trade certified.

The collaboration resonates with the projected growth of the global coconut products market. According to Research and Markets, the market size is anticipated to reach an impressive $38.58 billion by 2030. This surge is primarily driven by the increasing demand for coconut products like coconut milk, coconut water, and desiccated coconut within the dynamic food and beverage industry.


South Africa is abuzz with activities as leaders of the five-member BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — began a three-day summit in Johannesburg on Tuesday, 22 August 2023 with the agenda of expanding the club as an alternative to a geopolitical alternative to Western-led forums such as the Group of 7.

The latest assembly of the BRICS leaders has sparked international interest at a level not witnessed since its formation 14 years ago. Collectively, BRICS nations contribute over a third of the world’s agricultural output and this could even be more after Argentina, Nigeria, Iran, Belarus, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia expressing interest in joining the coalition, which will further add to the diversity of the BRICS bloc, accounting for 40% of the global population and a quarter of the global economy.

Agriculture featured as one of the headlines during the BRICS Business Forum in Sandton, Johannesburg, given the industry’s transformative shift, propelled by the integration of technology which has been pivotal in reshaping and modernizing the global agriculture. The evolution of the industry promises to increased food security and presents an opportunity to reduce costs and promote sustainability.

Notably, this paradigm shift could pave the way for Africa to become the world’s food basket. The integration of technology enhances food security and presents an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions, presenting a path towards de-carbonization and food security.

The 2023 BRICS Business Forum discussions on sustainable agricultural development and the promotion of trade and investment within the agricultural sector across member nations featured esteemed voices from various sectors who shared insights on the potential impacts of technology in agriculture.

Jai Shroff, Chairman and Global CEO of UPL, and a member of the BRICS Business Council from India, emphasized the impact of climate change on the agricultural sector. Shroff advocated for rewarding farmers for adopting sustainable practices, suggesting that such incentives could catalyze a significant reduction in carbon emissions. Beyond carbon credits, he proposed rewarding farmers either monetarily or by offering improved shelf space in stores as a means to drive sustainable behavior.

Bruno Ferla, Vice President of BRF – Brazil’s leading animal protein producer and largest poultry exporter – stressed the role of technology in meeting the growing food demand. He highlighted how technology can optimize resource allocation, such as water and soil, and improve livestock management. Ferla urged BRICS nations to embrace technology and play an active role in shaping global agricultural policies.

In the words of Ferla, “Everyone wants a seat at the table, but what’s the point if there’s no food on the table?” He emphasized the need to strike a balance between various factors while providing quality food at an affordable price. This sentiment underscores the importance of aligning sustainability efforts with consumer demands.

Vladimir Nosov, Head of Competence Centre: PhosAgro in Russia, highlighted the multifaceted challenges facing the agriculture sector. He advocated for smart products, including bio-fertilizers and eco-efficient solutions, to address these challenges. Nosov’s insights shed light on the innovative strategies required to enhance agricultural productivity sustainably.

Sharing China’s strategic agricultural approach, Jun Lyu, Chairman of COFCO Group, China’s largest food processor, manufacturer, and trader, shared the county’s unique perspective. Despite limited arable land and fresh water resources, China plays a pivotal role in global food provision. Lyu emphasized the strategic use of technology and innovative methods that have contributed to China’s success in agricultural production.

These discussions underscored the transformative potential of technology in modernizing the agricultural industry. As the world looks toward a future marked by both challenges and opportunities, embracing technological advancements remains paramount for a thriving agricultural sector.


In the vibrant heart of Nairobi, a transformation is underway in the coffee industry that promises to reshape the fortunes of coffee farmers. The Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) auction, after a brief suspension aimed at implementing substantial reforms, has now resumed operations, breathing fresh hope into the lives of coffee growers across the nation.

A mere month-long hiatus was all it took for the NCE auction to recalibrate its approach and implement reforms that hold the potential to revolutionize the coffee sector. These reforms, geared toward enhancing the financial prospects of coffee farmers, are grounded in the concept of direct sales through the auction. This novel approach allows farmers to bypass intermediaries and directly sell their coffee, curbing the profiteering practices that have plagued the industry.

Breaking the Chains By Eliminating Middlemen

One of the cornerstones of this transformation is the introduction of the Direct Settlement System (DSS) technology platform, brought forth through a partnership with the Co-operative Bank. This innovative platform is the conduit through which all future coffee trading will occur. By embracing technology, the auction is not only modernizing its operations but also streamlining the trading process for coffee farmers, making it more efficient and transparent.

Transparency is a key ingredient in fostering trust and growth within any market. In line with this ethos, the Capital Markets Authority has stepped up to oversee the proceedings of the NCE auction. This measure adds an additional layer of oversight, ensuring that every transaction is conducted fairly and every participant has a level playing field.

Empowering farmers and Educating the Market

Before the auction resumed, a comprehensive training forum was organized to familiarize all stakeholders with the intricacies of the new Direct Settlement System. Brokers, traders, warehouse operators, and coffee farmers convened in Nairobi to gain insights into the workings of the DSS, fortifying their ability to participate effectively and maximize their returns.

Empowering coffee farmers lies at the heart of these reforms. To this end, 11 coffee co-operative unions have already secured licenses to directly sell their produce at the exchange and internationally, effectively eliminating the role of middlemen. This move not only ensures better financial remuneration for the farmers but also enhances their agency in the coffee trade.

The momentum of change continues as an additional five unions are set to be licensed before the end of August. This will increase the total number of farmer-owned coffee brokerage companies to 16, according to the Cooperatives Principal Secretary. This diversified landscape promises to provide more options and opportunities for coffee farmers to find the right avenue for their produce.

In a bid to ensure fairness and equity, three distinct licensing authorities are now involved in the process: county governments, the Capital Markets Authority, and the Agriculture and Food Authority. This multi-layered approach establishes checks and balances along the entire value chain, safeguarding the interests of coffee farmers and promoting a sustainable trade ecosystem.

Acknowledging the diversity within the coffee farming community, the government is collaborating with county governments and the Capital Markets Authority to enable small, medium, and large estates to form co-operatives or associations. This move aims to democratize access to brokerage licenses, ensuring that all categories of farmers can benefit from the reforms.

Kenya’s coffee production is characterized by two distinct systems: smallholder farming and larger estates. The smallholders, totaling around 700,000 growers, are organized into 559 active coffee cooperative societies operating 1,065 wet mills. Meanwhile, the estates, estimated at 3,000, operate 2,132 wet mills. This dynamic landscape reflects the intricate fabric of the coffee industry in Kenya.

With a commitment to bolster coffee production from the current 51,000 metric tonnes to 81,000 metric tonnes by 2024 and ultimately to 260,000 tonnes by 2027, the government is paving the way for a more prosperous future for coffee farming in Kenya. These ambitious targets underscore the transformative power of the NCE auction reforms and their potential to reinvigorate the coffee sector.

The revival of the Nairobi Coffee Exchange auction marks a watershed moment in the history of Kenyan coffee. Through innovative technology, enhanced transparency, and a renewed focus on empowering farmers, the auction is poised to create a fairer, more equitable, and thriving coffee ecosystem. As Kenya sets its sights on greater coffee production, these reforms stand as a testament to the resilience and determination of the nation’s coffee industry.


In recent times, Kenya’s agriculture sector has been grappling with a significant hurdle: the increase of interest rates for agricultural loans over the past years. According to Trading Economics, interest rates for agricultural loans in Kenya have spiked in the past year, which is the fastest increase since the early 1980s. This abrupt increase marks the fastest surge in the past decade, making it crucial to dissect its implications, especially for the least-profitable farmers who are bearing the brunt of this situation.

The sudden surge in interest rates has sent ripples of concern through Kenya’s agricultural landscape. and it poses a formidable challenge for farmers across the country.

The most vulnerable group affected by the doubled interest rates are the least-profitable farmers. These farmers, who are already struggling to maintain their profitability, are now grappling with increased interest expenses that are taking a toll on their financial stability. This impact is deeply felt due to the higher debt levels per acre that these farmers typically carry, resulting in more significant annual interest payments per acre.

To navigating the financial landscape, all agricultural producers, regardless of their profitability and existing debt levels, are advised to brace themselves for elevated interest rates. Incorporating higher interest expenses into cash flow projections is a prudent step to take. The reality is that the historically low and stable interest rates that once benefited producer cash flows previously are no longer sustainable.

The financial vulnerability of the least-profitable farmers is further accentuated by their higher liabilities per crop acre farmed. This leaves them significantly more sensitive to rate increases. As interest rates climb, their interest costs per acre surge, placing even more strain on their already fragile cash flows and reducing overall profits.

Over the past decade, the gap between Kenya’s least-profitable growers and their more prosperous counterparts has been steadily widening. Since 2022, price increases have disproportionately affected the least-profitable producers. These farmers are less likely to benefit from bulk discounts, have limited working capital, and carry a heavy burden of debt.

Agriculture has also been hit by the relentless climb in farm production expenses. Since 2019, expenses have risen consistently, with sharp spikes observed in 2022 and the current year, underscoring the challenges that farmers face in managing their operational costs.

Looking Ahead: A Mixed Forecast

It is projected that the interest rate will be 10.50 percent by the end of the third quarter of 2023. While expenses are projected to decrease in the months ahead, this is juxtaposed with a decline in net farm income. This vital metric of profitability is expected to drop by a significant rate, signaling continued challenges for farmers as they strive to navigate the changing financial landscape.

The CEO of Eagmark and an expert in agricultural economics, Mr. Bonnie Oduor encourages farmers to stay informed, seek financial guidance, and explore innovative strategies to ensure the resilience and sustainability of Kenya’s agriculture sector amidst these challenging times.


In a move aimed at stabilizing domestic prices and ensuring adequate availability, India, the world’s largest rice exporter, has imposed a ban on several categories of rice exports. Experts warn that this decision could have far-reaching consequences, driving up global prices of the grain and exacerbating existing concerns over food insecurity. The ban comes at a critical time when the world is already grappling with rising food prices and supply uncertainties.

India’s Importance in Global Rice Trade

India accounts for a substantial 40% share of the global rice trade, with its shipments reaching approximately 140 countries. The recent ban, announced by the government, was prompted by an 11.5% increase in prices over the past year and a further 3% rise in the past month. The ban, which became effective in July 2023, aims to ensure sufficient availability of non-basmati white rice in the Indian market and mitigate the inflationary pressures on domestic prices.

Impact on Global Prices

The ban’s implications extend beyond India’s borders, with experts warning that it could significantly impact global rice prices. By estimates, India used to export around 22.5 million tons of rice, but with the ban, approximately 10 million tons will be removed from the international market, representing nearly 40% of India’s rice exports.

Further Turmoil in Global Food Grain Markets

This development comes shortly after Russia withdrew support for Ukrainian wheat passage through the Black Sea, triggering warnings of surging prices. Consequently, the combination of India’s rice ban and the uncertainty around wheat supplies creates additional shocks in the global food grain markets.

Reasons Behind India’s Ban

While India is among the world’s largest rice producers and has sufficient stockpiles for its vast population, fears arise due to the possibility of an erratic monsoon season that could damage the paddy crop, planted in June and harvested in September. Recent heavy rains and floods in key rice-growing regions, such as Punjab and Haryana, have raised concerns. Additionally, deficient rains in southern states further contribute to uncertainty in rice production.

Potential Impact of El Nino

The “El Nino” effect, which brings hot, dry weather and lower rainfall to Asia, where most of the world’s rice is grown, adds to the worries over potential crop shortages. Considering rice’s status as a staple food for over 3 billion people globally, the Indian government’s cautious approach is understandable, aiming to avert any risks associated with food inflation.

Diplomacy and Political Considerations

The ban on rice exports excludes specific varieties primarily exported to Bangladesh and African nations, reflecting a diplomatic move to maintain good ties with neighboring countries and strengthen influence in Africa.

Global Consequences and Future Trends

Given India’s significant role in the rice market, the ban may lead to further disruptions. Countries like Benin, Africa’s largest rice importer, are already grappling with soaring food costs, raising further alarm about the potential consequences of India’s export ban. Furthermore, Vietnam and other major rice producers have been stockpiling rice in anticipation of shortages, further intensifying the global supply concerns.

India’s decision to impose the ban has historical precedence. In 2008, Vietnam banned rice exports, prompting other countries like India, China, and Cambodia to follow suit. According to a World Bank study, these export restrictions caused a significant 52% increase in global rice prices. Should other nations emulate India’s move and impose export restrictions, the effects on food prices could surpass those experienced in 2008.

As the global population grows and climate change continues to affect agricultural yields, the temptation for governments to resort to export restrictions to secure domestic food security may become more frequent. Rice, being a primary source of sustenance for nearly half of the world’s population, faces increased threats to its supply, which could potentially trigger more restrictive actions in the future.

With food insecurity becoming a pressing concern on the international stage, experts and policymakers will closely monitor the effects of India’s rice export ban. The situation calls for thoughtful and cooperative measures to ensure stable and affordable food supplies for vulnerable populations worldwide.


The avocado trade is experiencing a significant boom, with the market witnessing robust growth over the past decade. As per the latest RaboResearch Report, the increasing demand for avocados, driven by their attractive product attributes, combined with higher profitability, has led to a surge in global production and trade. However, the soaring popularity of avocados has also intensified competition, prompting industry players to focus on efficiency and sustainability.

Avocado production has expanded by approximately 7% globally in the last ten years, with key regions like Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Kenya leading the charge. Mexico, the largest avocado-producing country, has seen a 6% increase in production, accounting for 30% of the global output. In tandem, Colombia, Peru, and Kenya have experienced production growth rates of 15%, 12%, and 11%, respectively, collectively contributing 27% to global production. Notably, the United States, while previously a top 10 producer, has slipped in the rankings.

One crucial factor contributing to the year-round availability of avocados in key markets like the US, the EU, and some Asian countries is the complementary harvesting seasons of these countries. While Mexico maintains year-round production, it experiences a seasonal low in June and July when other major producers, like the US (California) and Peru, step in, ensuring a steady supply to the US market.

Mexico retains its position as the largest exporter, with exports growing at an average annual rate of approximately 8% over the past decade, surpassing 1 million metric tons in 2022. The primary destination for these exports is the US market, which continues to be the largest importer of avocados globally, witnessing an 8% increase in imports from 2012 to 2022. Moreover, countries like Peru, Spain, and Kenya have also seen significant growth in exports, primarily supplying the European market.

The commercial market value of fresh avocados reached an estimated USD 18 billion in 2022, and experts believe there is still ample room for growth, especially in regions with lower per capita consumption. Mexico and Chile lead in per capita avocado availability, with approximately 9kg and nearly 8kg of fresh avocados per person per year, respectively. Australia and the US also show considerable consumption, each with over 4kg per capita.

However, amidst this success story, sustainability concerns loom large, with water usage being a crucial issue for avocado producers. Recognizing the importance of preserving natural resources, avocado growers have been investing in advanced irrigation systems to enhance water efficiency.

In a significant development, the UN FAO has recognized Kenya as one of the major players in the global avocado industry, ranking among the top 15 avocado-producing countries. With a current production of 417,000 metric tons, Kenya leads other African countries and is set to boost production further by tapping into the Indian market. The country aims to double its avocado production in the next five years, with plans to expand farming land to over 50,000 hectares.

Kenya’s avocado production is not fully commercialized yet, with a substantial portion being grown by small-scale farmers for domestic consumption, local markets, and exports. However, there is a growing trend among farmers in regions like North Rift and South Rift to shift from traditional cash crops like maize and wheat to avocado farming due to its lucrative returns.

As the global avocado trade continues to thrive, it becomes essential for industry players to strike a balance between meeting the escalating demand and adopting sustainable practices. By embracing efficient technologies and environmentally responsible methods, the avocado industry can not only remain competitive but also contribute to a greener and more prosperous future.

Eagmark is proud to bring you this comprehensive report on the booming global avocado trade, combining insights from top agriculture economists, industry experts, and UN FAO data. Enroll to the Eagmark Avocado Production Course for more insights and comprehensive understanding of avocado cultivation and management.



In the face of a deepening global food crisis, domestic food price inflation remains stubbornly high around the world, posing significant challenges for low- and middle-income countries. According to recent World Bank Food Security Update from February to May 2023, 61.1% of low-income countries, 79.1% of lower-middle-income countries, and 70% of upper-middle-income countries are experiencing food price inflation greater than 5%, with several facing double-digit inflation.

High-income countries are not immune to the effects, with 78.9% experiencing rising food prices. The situation is particularly dire in Africa, alongside regions like North America, Latin America, South Asia, Europe, and Central Asia. This alarming trend has raised concerns about the stability of global food security.

Food Inflation Heat Map - Eagmark

The most recent agriculture market statistics paint a mixed picture. The agricultural and cereal price indexes have fallen by 4% and 12%, respectively, with maize prices falling by 21% compared to two weeks ago. Meanwhile, wheat prices have fallen by 3%, while rice prices have increased by 1% over the same time period. Maize and wheat prices are around 19% lower year on year, but rice prices are 16% higher. However, maize prices are down 4% from January 2021, while wheat and rice prices are up 1% and 3%, respectively.

The Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) Market Monitor for July 2023 has expressed concern about geopolitical tensions that endanger the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Following the tragic collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine, massive flooding has threatened drinking water supplies and hampered irrigation, affecting over 40,000 hectares of land as well as multiple cities and villages. The scenario is jeopardizing Ukraine’s agricultural productivity and might lead to the agreement’s termination, potentially limiting Black Sea exports and harming world grain supply.

To compound matters, the newly released Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development-Food and Agriculture Organization (OECD-FAO) Agricultural Outlook 2023-2032 identifies the rise in agricultural input prices as a serious danger to global food security. Food prices are projected to rise more as fertilizer costs rise. According to the analysis, every 1% increase in fertilizer prices could result in a 0.2% increase in agricultural product prices. Crops that rely significantly on fertilizers are projected to suffer more than livestock goods, with chicken and pig being particularly vulnerable due to their need on compound feed.

You may also want to read: What the Rising Food Prices and Shortages Mean for Kenya’s Agricultural Sector

In response to the mounting global food crisis and trade restrictions imposed by various countries, the World Bank announced a commitment of up to $30 billion over 15 months, with $12 billion committed to new projects, in April 2022. The funding will be used to improve food and nutrition security as well as food system resilience, with a particular emphasis on Africa, one of the hardest-hit regions.

Several noteworthy projects have already been initiated by the World Bank in collaboration with affected African nations. These include:

  1. West Africa Food Systems Resilience Program: A $766 million initiative designed to increase preparedness against food insecurity and enhance the resilience of food systems in West Africa. The program leverages digital advisory services for agriculture and food crisis prevention, invests in regional food market integration and trade, and builds the adaptive capacity of agricultural system actors. Additional funding of $345 million is under preparation for Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
  2. Support for Chad, Ghana, and Sierra Leone: A $315 million loan to increase their preparedness against food insecurity and improve the resilience of their food systems.
  3. Emergency Food Security and Resilience Support Project for Egypt: A $500 million project to ensure that poor and vulnerable households have continuous access to bread, strengthen the country’s resilience to food crises, and support reforms that improve nutritional outcomes.
  4. Aid for Tunisia: A $130 million loan to mitigate the impact of the Ukraine war by financing vital soft wheat imports and providing emergency support for dairy production and smallholder farmers’ planting season.
  5. Food Systems Resilience Program for Eastern and Southern Africa: A $2.3 billion initiative aimed at enhancing food systems resilience, increasing agricultural production, and ensuring sustainable development of natural resources in the region.

In May, the World Bank Group and the G7 Presidency jointly established the Global Alliance for Food Security to address the unfolding global hunger crisis. The alliance has developed a publicly accessible Global Food and Nutrition Security Dashboard, offering timely information for global and local decision-makers to facilitate better coordination of policy and financial responses to the food crisis.

As the global food crisis deepens, concerted efforts by international organizations and nations alike are essential to mitigate its impact. The World Bank’s commitment to supporting food and nutrition security in Africa and beyond demonstrates the urgency with which stakeholders must act to safeguard the well-being of millions and secure the future of food systems worldwide.


In a groundbreaking leap forward for the agriculture industry, renowned tractor manufacturer John Deere has unveiled its latest innovation – the fully autonomous tractor. This cutting-edge technology not only promises increased efficiency and productivity but also represents a significant step towards the future of autonomous farming.

Unlike mere concepts, John Deere’s autonomous tractor is a reality. It brings everything farmers love about the reliable 8R tractor but with the added option of running it with or without an operator. This revolutionary development opens up new possibilities for farmers, allowing them to delegate certain tasks to the tractor while they focus on other crucial aspects of their operations.

So, how close are farmers to embracing this new autonomous era? Surprisingly close, it seems. For those already using precision technology such as Starfire™ receivers and AutoPath™ guidance, the transition to full autonomy is well within reach. Additionally, farmers comfortable with transferring maps, tillage prescriptions, and machine and field data to and from the tractor through the John Deere Operations Center™ are already more than halfway to realizing the benefits of autonomous farming.

The system’s autonomy lies in a combination of components and applications that may already sound familiar, including a StarFire™ receiver, AutoTrac™ Turn Automation, and the John Deere Operations Center™. However, John Deere has added a few game-changing innovations to enable full autonomy including:

  1. 360-Degree advanced cameras that grant the tractor a 360-degree vision, enabling it to detect objects in the field and calculate distances with incredible precision. This real-time visual information processed in as little as 100 milliseconds, allowing the tractor to identify obstacles and stop automatically if it encounters anything unfamiliar, immediately alerting the farmer.
  2. High-Speed Processor that complement the cameras, by evaluating every pixel of every image to make informed decisions about the tractor’s next move.
  3. A Neural Network that powers Artificial Intelligence (AI) which analyzes the images and determines whether the terrain is safe to drive on or not, all within a remarkably short timeframe of about 100 milliseconds.

The autonomous ready tractor comes equipped with a fully functional cab, complete with operator controls. When desired, farmers can take the reins and drive it conventionally. However, during periods of labor shortages, tight weather windows, or when more time is needed for personal matters, the autonomous option proves invaluable. The tractor tirelessly continues its work while farmers can focus on other essential aspects of their lives.

The advantages of autonomy are numerous. Consider it as an extra pair of reliable and tireless hands. With the tractor handling tasks efficiently throughout the day and night, farmers can optimize their time and take advantage of favorable soil conditions. This not only results in increased productivity but also opens up opportunities to cover more acres without the need for additional labor.

John Deere’s Operations Center mobile application further enhances the autonomous experience. Farmers can monitor their tractor’s activities in real-time from anywhere using a smartphone or tablet. The app also provides alerts in case of any obstacles or mechanical issues, ensuring that the tractor operates smoothly and efficiently.

Putting the autonomous-capable tractor to work is a seamless process. After transporting the tractor to the field, farmers can easily configure it for autonomous operation. With a simple swipe on their tablet or smartphone, the tractor will initiate, scan for obstacles, and indicate an “all clear” if the path is safe, allowing it to automatically commence the assigned tasks.

The imminent availability of the autonomous John Deere tractor marks a pivotal moment in agriculture. This technological marvel is set to transform the industry in the coming days, empowering farmers with newfound efficiencies, increased productivity, and improved resource management. As we step into this era of autonomy, John Deere’s contribution to shaping the future of farming cannot be overstated. The dawn of autonomous farming is upon us, and it promises to revolutionize agriculture as we know it.


Rotten cocoa pods after torrential rains experienced from mid-May, affecting cocoa production in all regions, at Akressi village in the Aboisso region, Ivory Coast. Image source: REUTERS

In a significant development impacting the global cocoa market, the Ivorian Cocoa Coffee Council (CCC) has announced the suspension of cocoa futures sales for the 2023/2024 campaign until further notice. The decision comes in light of ongoing uncertainties surrounding the cocoa supply chain, exacerbated by adverse weather conditions and the outbreak of brown rot disease.

Yves Brahima Kone, the director general of CCC, revealed that concerns over the availability of an adequate quantity of raw materials from production areas to cover sales, combined with heavy rains between May 15 and July 10, have severely affected cocoa production. The persistent humidity has also provided ideal conditions for the proliferation of brown rot, a fungal disease that poses a threat to cocoa trees. CCC acknowledged the disease’s rapid spread across many plantations and is promptly assessing the situation to gain a comprehensive understanding.

Mr. Kone expressed apprehension about the cocoa harvest in the initial stages of the main season, expecting a considerable decline compared to the current year. He emphasized the importance of the production from January to March in offsetting potential volume imbalances. Currently, the cocoa sales have already exceeded one million tonnes, accounting for approximately 50% of the projected harvest of 2.2 million tonnes.

The impact of the brown rot outbreak and the suspension of cocoa sales will be felt by various stakeholders, including major commodities trading houses such as Cargill, Olam, and prominent chocolate manufacturers like Barry Callebaut, Hershey, and Nestle. Furthermore, this development represents a significant blow to Ivory Coast, a nation heavily reliant on cocoa, with the United Nations estimating that it contributes 40% of the country’s export earnings. Ivory Coast and other major cocoa producers including Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon that account for around 70% of global production, have witnessed heavy tropical downpours in recent weeks.

Farmers, cocoa pod counters, and exporters based in Ivory Coast are bracing for a notable decline in cocoa output during the initial phase of the main harvest. The CCC’s initial projection for the current season was a total cocoa output of 2.2 million tonnes.

Ivory Coast, recognized as the world’s leading cocoa-producing country, supplying 45% of global cocoa, is aiming to increase domestic cocoa processing. The country plans to process 49% of its production starting from October by adding several new processing plants. Currently, approximately 35-40% of cocoa is processed within the country, with the remainder exported. However, the government intends to raise the domestic processing share to at least 50%.

To support this goal, Ivory Coast has entered into contracts with the United Arab Emirates for the construction of a new plant in San Pedro, with a grinding capacity of 120,000 tonnes, and China for the construction of two factories, each with a production capacity of 50,000 tonnes. Upon completion, these new facilities will enable the country to process over 1 million tonnes of cocoa annually, solidifying its position as the world’s leading cocoa grinder.

The global cocoa market will closely monitor the situation in Ivory Coast as stakeholders navigate the challenges posed by the supply chain uncertainties and the brown rot outbreak. Eagmark will continue to report on the developments and their potential ramifications for the international cocoa industry.


Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are transforming the way farmers approach crop treatment and pesticide application. In a recent discussion with Ag Tech Talk Podcast, the CEO and Co-founder of Hylio, Arthur Erickson, talked about the revolutionary impact of agricultural drones on farming practices. The conversation shed light on the challenges faced by the industry, the current adoption rate, and the future of drone technology in agriculture.

Arthur acknowledged the successful drone delivery project in Costa Rica, which preceded Amazon and Google’s ventures into this field. Although the project showcased the technical feasibility of drone deliveries, profitability remained a concern due to excessive red tape and limited monetary returns. Consequently, the focus shifted entirely to the agricultural sector, where the potential of drones in crop treatment became evident.

Today, companies like Hylio design, manufacture, and sell crop treatment platforms in the form of crop spraying drones. These drones can effectively apply both liquid and solid products, ranging from pesticides to seeds or bait. The versatility of these devices makes them invaluable tools in the agriculture and adjacent industries, enabling the precise and efficient delivery of chemicals and products for treating crops.

One of the key concerns regarding UAV technology is regulatory landscape surrounding their operations. However, the regulations for agricultural drone use are relatively more lenient compared to those for cargo or human transport over cities. In recent times, however, regulators such as the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have however shown greater flexibility when it comes to granting exemptions and waivers for agricultural drone operations, particularly in sparsely populated rural areas. By demonstrating responsible operation practices, such as flying over vast acres of land with minimal human presence, farmers can navigate the current regulatory environment.

The adoption rate of drones in agriculture has been a concern all over the world. While drones have become increasingly ubiquitous, the adoption of agricultural drones has faced some initial hesitancy. This hesitancy can be attributed to farmers’ familiarity with traditional large-scale equipment and the misconception that drones’ smaller carrying capacity may hinder their effectiveness. However, educating farmers about the advantages of drones is important to ensure high update of this groundbreaking technology.

For example, most farmers do not know that agricultural drones can spray crops with a much finer and more penetrative mist, offering increased efficacy even with smaller volumes. Farmers need to be made aware that they can achieve similar results with a 75-litre drone compared to a 1000-litre tractor. Educating the market about these benefits is crucial to driving wider adoption.

The cost savings offered by drones have a much more significant advantage over traditional equipment like spraying with tractors or humans. With the ability to cover 100 acres per hour, agricultural drones are not only more cost-effective in terms of initial purchase prices but also in terms of operating costs. Compared to a $300,000-$450,000 high-clearance sprayer, two of the largest drones currently available in the market, such as Hylio’s Ag272, can achieve the same results at approximately half the price. The operating costs are further reduced to 30%-40% of traditional methods due to lower fuel consumption and maintenance requirements. Drones also offer greater flexibility in deployment, as they can access challenging terrain and perform spot spraying with precision, providing additional cost savings.

Contrary to common assumptions, modern agricultural drones are capable of handling wind speeds of up to 25-30 miles per hour, making them reliable in various weather conditions. However, it is important to adhere to safety guidelines and avoid spraying in excessive wind speeds. The limitations on drone applications were mainly associated with the weight of heavy fertilizers, where traditional equipment remains more efficient.

In terms of usage, agricultural drones can be purchased or rented, depending on the farmer’s preference and needs. Larger farmers often choose to invest in their own drones, while service providers cater to smaller farms and offer drone spraying services. The split between direct buyers and service providers is approximately 50-50.

It is worth noting that the challenges faced by the agriculture technology industry go beyond education. Regulatory uncertainties, labor shortages, and the need for localized support are areas that need attention. Regulatory bodies need to adapt to the evolving industry and provide clearer guidelines to foster growth. Additionally, the industry needs to address the demand for cost-effective and durable drone solutions, particularly in regions with smaller farms and limited infrastructure.

Looking to the future, there is great potential in the advancement of drone technology. It is predicted that drones will continue to increase in size and payload capacity, potentially reaching up to between 190-380 litres. However, the emphasis must be put on further automation to make drones to be more autonomous and capable of charging and refilling between flights. This can involve deploying a fleet of drones to cover a given area, with each drone operating independently based on pre-set instructions. The aim is to minimize human intervention and maximize efficiency.

It has become evident that agricultural drones have the potential to revolutionize farming practices worldwide. With their ability to reduce costs, improve precision, and overcome labor shortages, drones are poised to become an essential tool in modern agriculture. While challenges remain, such as education, regulations, and industry consolidation, the industry is progressing rapidly, and agricultural drones are proving to be a game-changer for farmers across the globe.

For more information about the applications and benefits of agricultural drones, you can enroll for the Precision Agriculture Course at The course offers comprehensive resources for those interested in exploring the potential of drone technology and other technology in agriculture.



⬤ According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), farmers are among those who are at greater risk of dying by suicide.

⬤ The impact of agricultural work extends far beyond physical exertion; it takes a profound toll on the mental well-being of those who dedicate their lives to this noble profession.

Modern-day agriculture has witnessed remarkable transformations, revolutionizing how we cultivate crops and breed livestock to feed an ever-growing global population. Technological advancements and innovations have ushered in convenience and efficiency to farming practices across many regions. However, amidst the progress, farmers find themselves grappling with new challenges and mounting pressures, propelling them into a relentless pursuit of maximizing yields.

Climate change, erratic weather patterns, volatile markets, pest and disease outbreaks, lack of financial incentives, population growth that encroaches upon fertile lands, and an escalating demand for food have coalesced into formidable obstacles, making sustainability an elusive goal for farmers.

Yet, the impact of agricultural work extends far beyond physical exertion; it takes a profound toll on the mental well-being of those who dedicate their lives to this noble profession. Men and women tirelessly labor in the fields, nurturing the soil and tending to crops and livestock, all while facing unique obstacles that can profoundly impact their mental health. Stress, depression, and the harrowing specter of suicide loom large, necessitating urgent acknowledgment and concerted efforts within the farming community.

Within the realm of agriculture, an array of stressors bears down heavily on farmers’ minds. The grueling demands of long hours, incessant financial pressures, and the unpredictable nature of the industry create an immense burden that, if left unaddressed, can exact a devastating toll on mental well-being.

Moreover, the profound sense of social isolation poses yet another formidable challenge. Many farmers toil in solitude, whether on sprawling farms or in remote areas, leaving them with limited social interaction. This absence of regular connection exacerbates existing mental health issues, rendering farmers vulnerable to the corrosive effects of loneliness and isolation.

Depression, a prevalent mental health concern among farmers, must never be underestimated. When left unaddressed, it wreaks havoc on individuals’ lives and jeopardizes their livelihoods. Symptoms such as lingering sadness, hopelessness, disrupted sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, and a loss of interest in activities that once brought joy erect insurmountable barriers to personal and professional fulfillment.

Mental Health in Agriculture - Eagmark Agri-HubYet, perhaps the most alarming aspect is the elevated risk of suicide within the farming community. Distressing statistics reveal that farmers bear one of the highest suicide rates across all occupations. Farmers have one of the highest suicide rates across all occupations.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), farmers are among those who are at greater risk of dying by suicide. The CDC states that this is driven in part by extreme stress of debt, drought and other factors1. In Australia, the average suicide rate in farmers was almost 60 per cent higher than non-farmers. In India, every day, 28 people dependent on farming die by suicide.

This heartbreaking reality underscores the imperative need for proactive intervention and robust support systems.


The agricultural community must address the struggles of farmers’ mental well-being by focusing on mental health support to combat stress, depression, and suicide risks.

To confront these critical mental health concerns head-on, it becomes paramount to prioritize the well-being of farmers by ensuring they have unfettered access to vital resources and support networks. Mental health services, encompassing counseling and therapy, must be readily accessible, enabling individuals to seek help when needed. Establishing support groups where farmers can forge connections with peers fosters a sense of community, offering a secure space for sharing experiences and coping strategies.

Moreover, offering resources for financial and legal assistance can alleviate the burden of financial stress that weighs heavily on farmers. Agricultural organizations and employers play a pivotal role in promoting mental health initiatives. By cultivating a workplace environment that nurtures open dialogue, extends support, and acknowledges the unique stressors encountered by farmers, they become agents of positive change.

In response to this profound issue, organizations such as Eagmark emerge as torchbearers, championing the cause of farmers’ mental well-being. Through awareness programs such as the Agricultural Health and Medicine Course and articles like this, they aspire to dispel the stigma surrounding mental health concerns and foster a culture that appreciates and prioritizes the psychological welfare of those who sustain our agricultural systems.

With this in mind, the agricultural sector must confront and address the challenges afflicting farmers’ mental health. By acknowledging the stress, depression, and suicide risks ingrained within farming, we can take proactive strides in establishing vital support systems. Together, we can cultivate a resilient farming community that thrives not only on the land but also within the minds of those who tirelessly tend to it, nurturing a brighter and healthier future for farmers worldwide.


  • Kenya’s Milk Production Improves to New Heights as Taita Taveta County Reports Promising Increase in Milk Output, Boosting Agricultural Sector

Taita Taveta County’s Department of Livestock in Kenya has announced a significant rise in milk production thanks to the implementation of subsidized artificial insemination (AI) services, enhanced livestock disease and pest control, and the adoption of improved animal feeds and management practices. The county is now on track to reach an annual milk production of 30 million liters.

Erickson Kyongo, the County Executive Committee Member in charge of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Irrigation, expressed optimism about the county’s progress. He highlighted the efforts made to provide affordable and high-quality AI services, as well as support for best practices in animal feed management and disease control.

“Our continuous efforts to make cheap and high-quality AI services accessible, along with the promotion of best practices in animal feed management and disease control, are driving us towards achieving an annual milk production of 30 million liters,” stated Kyongo.

He further projected that by the end of 2023, farmers in the county would have produced at least 20 million liters of milk before the onset of the dry season, which typically slows down production.

The journey towards this significant milestone began in 2018 when the county leadership signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Kenya Animal Genetic Resources Center, leading to a substantial reduction in the price of AI services. The cost per animal dropped from between Sh1,500 and Sh2,000 to an affordable Sh200.

Dr. Margaret Kibogy, the Managing Director of the Kenya Dairy Board, provided insight into the broader national dairy industry. She noted that Kenya’s dairy sector has been experiencing an estimated annual growth rate of 5%, with current milk production standing at 5.2 billion liters per year.

Dr. Kibogy emphasized the importance of the dairy industry, stating, “Kenya’s dairy sector contributes 4% to the national GDP, 12% to the agriculture GDP, and 44% to the livestock GDP. Approximately 1.8 million smallholder farmers depend on dairy production for their livelihoods.”

Meanwhile, the government has pledged support for dairy farmers through various interventions as part of its agricultural reformation efforts, aiming to create wealth and expand job opportunities within the sector. Cooperative union members have expressed optimism about the transformative initiatives of the government and have vowed to leverage them to advocate for and reform the dairy industry in the country.

During the launch of the Meru Central Dairy Cooperative Union Factory Phase, President William Ruto made commitments to further support the dairy sector. He pledged to reduce the cost of semen from the current Sh8,000 to Sh1,500, along with plans to establish a Sh400 million plant producing 500,000 doses of semen locally, eliminating the need for imports.

According to the 2020 Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Food Balance Sheet report, milk and its related products have the highest per capita consumption in Kenya, with 93.3 kilograms per person annually. This is followed by maize (69.5 kg), wheat (41.3 kg), and vegetables (32.6 kg).

The rise in milk production in Taita Taveta County and the government’s commitment to supporting the dairy sector are encouraging signs for the agricultural industry in Kenya. As the nation continues to prioritize the dairy sector’s growth, it will contribute to improved livelihoods for smallholder farmers, increased economic prosperity, and enhanced food security.


  • The Kenyan Government’s Decision Aims to Balance Economic Growth, Job Creation, and Sustainable Forestry

In a recent announcement, Kenya’s President, William Ruto revealed the government’s decision to lift the six-year ban on logging in the country. This move comes as a response to the need for revitalizing economies in areas that heavily rely on forest products. Speaking at a church service in Molo, Nakuru County on 2nd July 2023, President Ruto emphasized the government’s commitment to sustainable logging practices, focusing on harvesting mature trees while simultaneously implementing tree-planting initiatives.

To promote locally made products, the Kenyan government has introduced a tax on all imported timber products in the national budget. President Ruto explained that this strategic step would encourage the growth of domestic industries and create employment opportunities for the youth. He further expressed his ambition to plant 15 billion trees over the next decade, ensuring a sustainable approach to forestry and climate change mitigation.

Over the past ten years, the logging industry has played a pivotal role in Kenya’s economy, particularly in providing employment to uneducated youth in urban areas. Regions such as Elburgon, Molo, Total areas in Nakuru, and Maji Mazuri in Eldama Gorge have heavily relied on the timber sector for employment. The industry has created jobs for various roles, including loaders, power saw operators, transporters, millers, and workers involved in clearing milling areas.

However, the ban on logging, enforced since February 2018 due to concerns over illegal logging and declining water levels in the country’s main rivers, has had a significant impact on these towns. Initially flourishing with a vibrant economy based on the lucrative timber trade since the 1990s, Elburgon and Molo have faced economic setbacks and witnessed the collapse of forest-dependent centers and communities.

A recent study conducted by the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) reveals the extent of the ban’s economic consequences. It estimates that Kenya Forestry Services suffered a loss of Sh4 billion in revenue and 44,000 jobs over the past six years. Moreover, the ban has contributed to the economic decline of forest-dependent regions and the loss of livelihoods for many.

President Ruto’s decision to lift the logging ban aims to strike a balance between economic growth, job creation, and sustainable forestry. While acknowledging the adverse impact of illegal logging and environmental concerns, the government seeks to regulate and monitor logging activities effectively. By implementing responsible logging practices, emphasizing reforestation, and supporting local industries, Kenya endeavors to harness the economic potential of its forests without compromising long-term environmental sustainability.

As the logging industry resumes operations, stakeholders and policymakers must work collaboratively to ensure that forestry practices align with climate change mitigation efforts. Sustainable logging methods, coupled with ambitious reforestation initiatives, will be crucial in preserving Kenya’s rich biodiversity and combatting the effects of climate change.


Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) and its parent company, East African Breweries Limited (EABL), emerged as top winners at the prestigious Africa Food Awards held at Nairobi’s Safari Park Hotel. KBL was honored as the Company of the Year in Africa, while EABL secured five awards across multiple categories. Click to view full list of winners.

EABL showcased its commitment to community impact through its Water for Life Initiative, which aligns with Sustainable Development Goal #6, advocating for clean water and sanitation access. With a five-year plan, EABL aims to supply over 500 million liters of water to households facing shortages and replenish water in the communities it operates in. The EABL Foundation has already invested over Ksh20 million in water and sanitation projects in areas such as Lukume, Olembo, Magunga, Okiki Amayo, and Ndhiwa in the Lake Basin region.

Under the Pioneer Grain To Glass Sustainability initiative, which encompasses the Preserve Water for Life campaign, EABL is dedicated to reducing water usage in its operations. The company targets a 40% increase in water usage efficiency in water-stressed areas and a 30% improvement across the entire company. EABL aims to improve water availability and quality in all local communities in water-stressed regions, replenishing more water than it uses in those areas by 2026. Additionally, the company plans to invest in enhancing access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in water-stressed markets and communities near its sites and local sourcing areas.

EABL’s commendable sustainability efforts were recognized further with the Sustainability Initiative of the Year award for its Biomass Boilers project. The subsidiary of Diageo has invested over Sh5 billion in a biomass plant as part of its transition to renewable energy. During the event, EABL’s Managing Director, Jane Karuku, highlighted that the biomass plant will contribute to achieving a net-zero status, effectively reducing carbon emissions by 48,000 tonnes annually.

Notably, EABL excelled in the New Product of the Year category, securing three awards for its innovative alcoholic beverages. Gordon’s & Tonic, Gordon’s Pink & Tonic, Captain Morgan Gold & Cola, and Rockshore Tropical beer all stood out among the most favored drinks in Africa.

EABL’s dedication to sustainability, community impact, and product innovation has positioned the company as a leader in Africa’s food industry. The Africa Food Awards, since its establishment in 2017, has celebrated outstanding individuals, innovative products, sustainability initiatives, and exemplary companies. The recognition ceremony witnessed over 50 African companies receiving awards across various categories, solidifying the Africa Food Awards as the most esteemed food industry award in sub-Saharan Africa.


Syngenta Crop Protection’s Seedcare business has unveiled a groundbreaking solution for farmers seeking effective control over soil pests while also improving the sustainability of their farming practices. The new seed treatment, named EQUENTO®, harnesses Syngenta’s state-of-the-art PLINAZOLIN® technology to safeguard crops from the earliest stages of their growth.

What sets EQUENTO® apart is its novel mode of action, categorized as IRAC Group 30, which effectively combats the rise of insect resistance. By utilizing this innovative approach, EQUENTO® ensures precise control over a wide range of soil pests, including notoriously challenging ones like wireworms and red-legged earth mites. This seed treatment can be applied across multiple crops, such as cereals and canola, enhancing its versatility and applicability.

One of the standout advantages of EQUENTO® is its ability to promote sustainability within farming operations. With its low dose rates and limited solubility and mobility in soil, EQUENTO® offers highly effective pest control while remaining safe for both seeds and plants. By concentrating its action around the plant’s roots, it not only provides precise and efficient pest management but also fosters healthier root systems that contribute to improved soil health and biodiversity.

Furthermore, this groundbreaking seed treatment affords farmers greater flexibility in making informed decisions regarding their farming practices. It accommodates various application timings, dose rates, and even allows for mixtures with other insecticides and fungicides. EQUENTO® proves effective even under low soil temperatures, effectively controlling pests that either ingest or come into contact with the plant, ultimately reducing pest populations in the soil. Its exceptional target specificity empowers farmers to tailor the dose rates precisely to address specific pest challenges they may encounter.

Speaking to another newsroom, Jonathan Brown, the Global Head of Syngenta Seedcare, expressed the company’s dedication to innovation, stating, “EQUENTO®’s combination of a novel mode of action, broad spectrum pest control, as well as superior seed and crop safety reflects Syngenta’s commitment to innovation.” This groundbreaking solution transforms farmers’ ability to manage pests such as wireworms, enabling the establishment of healthy young crops critical for optimal yields, all while safeguarding soil health, biodiversity, and the environment.

Farmers face substantial challenges from insects and soil pests that not only threaten crop yields but also compromise harvest quality by providing gateways for diseases. Climate change exacerbates these challenges as it leads to shifts in insect pressure and spectrums faced by farmers. The continuous evolution of pests, coupled with the urgency to protect sustainable productivity, necessitates innovative solutions.

Approximately 600 insect species are already resistant to at least one insecticide, highlighting the need for effective and sustainable pest management approaches. In response to these challenges, Syngenta plans to launch EQUENTO® globally, starting with its introduction in Australia later this year under the trademark EQUENTO® Extreme. Further registrations are expected in markets worldwide, ensuring access to this revolutionary seed treatment for farmers worldwide.

By introducing EQUENTO®, Syngenta Crop Protection’s Seedcare business is spearheading the advancement of pest control technologies in agriculture while prioritizing sustainability and the future of farming. This breakthrough solution holds the potential to revolutionize the way farmers combat soil pests and enhance their farming practices, contributing to a more resilient and productive agricultural sector.


The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has issued a warning about the re-emergence of the African Armyworm in six Eastern African countries, including Kenya. This invasive pest poses a significant threat to the already fragile food and nutrition security in the region.

Having already invaded 23 counties within Kenya, the African Armyworm’s return after a 21-year absence has dealt a severe blow to the agricultural sector. Experts attribute the resurgence of this destructive pest to the adverse effects of climate change, which have intensified the challenges faced by farmers.

Compounding the situation, this resurgence comes at a time when more than twenty counties, primarily in the arid and semi-arid regions, are still struggling to recover from the devastating effects of prolonged drought. Furthermore, the agricultural industry in the affected areas is still grappling with the aftermath of the Desert Locust invasion that occurred several months ago.

The proliferation of the African Armyworm can be attributed to the current weather conditions, which have created a highly conducive environment for the pest to breed and thrive. As a result, Kenya, Eritrea, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Uganda find themselves particularly vulnerable to the devastating effects of this pest.

Recognizing the gravity of the situation, the United Nations body, FAO, has allocated a budget of USD 500,000 for the purpose of training agriculture extension officers and providing them with the necessary equipment to effectively combat the African Armyworm infestation. This proactive approach aims to enhance the capacity of these officers in tackling the pest and safeguarding the agricultural industry from further devastation.

In line with their commitment to addressing this critical issue, the FAO recently launched the African Armyworm Management Project in Naivasha, Kenya. The project’s objective is to develop comprehensive strategies and implement effective management techniques to control the spread of the pest and minimize its impact on crop yields and food production.

The launch of this project signifies a united effort among Eastern African countries and international organizations to combat the resurgence of the African Armyworm. By pooling resources, knowledge, and expertise, stakeholders are determined to protect the livelihoods of farmers and ensure the availability of food for the region’s growing population.

The FAO’s alert regarding the re-emergence of the African Armyworm serves as a timely reminder of the urgent need for countries to address the challenges posed by climate change and invest in sustainable agricultural practices. Only through proactive measures, collaboration, and innovative approaches can we mitigate the threats to food security and build resilient agricultural systems capable of withstanding future challenges.


A groundbreaking initiative has been launched with the aim of expanding market opportunities for fruits in Eastern Africa, including pawpaw, mango, avocado, and citrus. This three-year project, specifically targeting Kenya, Uganda, and Burundi, seeks to address the challenges posed by invasive scale insect pests that have been wreaking havoc on these regions. The project, funded by the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), is a collaborative effort involving esteemed partners such as CABI, KEPHIS, KALRO, the National Museums of Kenya, and the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK).

Scale insects, particularly adult females, have emerged as a formidable threat to these vital crops, causing alarming yield losses of up to 91%. These minuscule pests tend to hide beneath plant leaves, often evading detection or being mistaken for diseases. By inserting their needle-like mouthparts into the bark, fruit, or leaves, they wreak havoc and disrupt agricultural productivity.

The primary objective of this ambitious project is to strengthen the monitoring and mitigation capabilities of Kenya, Uganda, and Burundi in dealing with these destructive pests. By doing so, the project aims to facilitate intra-regional trade, unlock the full potential of the agricultural sector, enhance food security, and foster sustainable economic growth within the region.

Considering that agriculture provides substantial employment and contributes significantly to the regional GDP, addressing the issue of scale insects and their detrimental impact on key fruits becomes imperative.

To achieve its objectives, the project will prioritize training agricultural extension staff and plant protection officers in the identification of scale insects and educating smallholder farmers on effective management strategies. By mitigating the risks associated with these pests, the project aims to improve market access for Eastern African produce and foster collaboration among regional stakeholders.

The overarching goal of this project is to foster regional collaboration in managing scale insects through various measures, including sharing pest reports of invasive species, improving cross-border inspection regulations and practices, exchanging pest interception reports, providing training to the staff of national plant protection organizations (NPPO) in Burundi, Kenya, and Uganda for identifying and monitoring incursions, and incorporating biological control as an integral part of the solution to produce safer crops, reduce pesticide residues, and sustain trade.

Specifically, the project will target several species of scale insects across different countries. In Kenya, the avocado mealybug has been adversely affecting the trade of fresh avocados to China, while the papaya mealybug has been decimating entire pawpaw orchards, causing significant losses in internal trade. In Uganda and Rwanda, the mango mealybug poses a severe threat, potentially leading to crop failure and further spread eastwards. Across Eastern Africa, the papaya mealybug impacts the cultivation and yields of pawpaw, cassava, vegetables, and other crops, while the citriculus mealybug poses a significant challenge to citrus crops.

The export of fresh fruits significantly contributes to the economic growth of Eastern African countries. However, the presence of quarantine pests in exported produce has hindered the growth of this sector. Consequently, the project aims to enhance compliance with phytosanitary requirements for targeted horticultural products. This will be achieved through improved surveillance and management of scale insect pests, ultimately resulting in enhanced production and better market access for fresh fruits such as pawpaw, mango, avocado, and citrus.

To accomplish these goals, the project will undertake several key activities. Firstly, taxonomists, NPPO staff, and extension officers will undergo comprehensive training in the identification and management of invasive scale insects. The project aims to develop two training curricula and provide training to 15 inspectors and taxonomists per country, as well as 24 agriculture extension officers across the three countries.

Furthermore, the project will strengthen the capacity of NPPOs in identifying, surveilling, and monitoring invasive scale insects. This will involve the development and updating of surveillance and monitoring protocols, conducting surveys on the pest status, delimiting the spread of scale insects, and generating reports on their occurrence. The project will also establish and update checklists of scale insects for each country, create a comprehensive database of scale insects and associated organisms at the national, regional, and global levels, and facilitate the sharing of information on invasive scale insect pests at a regional level. Additionally, the Pest Information Management System (PIMS) will be enhanced and updated to ensure effective pest management.

Moreover, the project aims to enhance the capacity of farmers to manage invasive scale insects at the farm level. This will involve the development of awareness and training materials on managing scale insects, certification of nurseries for the production of clean planting materials, and the release of biocontrol agents specifically targeting the Papaya Mealybug in Kenya and Uganda. The project aims to develop awareness materials for at least 30 priority scale insects, produce management decision guides for 10 invasive scale insects, publish training curricula, and ensure that 10 nurseries meet the certification requirements.

To promote stakeholder engagement and the application of a systems approach for managing scale insect pests, the project will conduct a series of workshops. These workshops will sensitize and train stakeholders on the systems approach and biosecurity, foster stronger linkages between the public and private sectors, create broader awareness of the project’s findings and recommendations, and culminate in the publication of proceedings from a final seminar and various communication products.

The project’s comprehensive approach, which encompasses capacity building, surveillance, biocontrol, and stakeholder engagement, aims to combat the menace of scale insects and ensure the production of safer crops with reduced pesticide residues. By enhancing market access and compliance with phytosanitary requirements, Eastern Africa’s fresh fruit industry can flourish, contributing significantly to the region’s economic growth and food security. Through collaborative efforts and concerted actions, this initiative strives to create a sustainable and prosperous future for the agricultural sector in Eastern Africa.


Walking through Kenyan supermarkets recently, it has become evident that the cost of food shopping has surged significantly. According to a recent Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) recent report, food inflation in the country reached 8% in May 2023, up from 7.9% in April 2023, one of the highest levels recorded in recent months. This is mainly attributed to the increase in prices of food commodities, coupled with other mounting cost-of-living pressures, such as skyrocketing energy bills, transport and soaring rents, which is making Kenyan citizens to truly feel the economic strain.

According to the Central Bank of Kenya, the highest inflation rate recorded in Kenya was 9.5% in November 2022, which slowed for the second consecutive month to 9.1% in December 2022, the lowest since August 2022. Just to put it into perspective, the inflation rate in Kenya increased from 5.8% in November 2021 to 9.5% in November 2022, the highest since June 2017. The inflation rate in Kenya is the measure of price variations in goods and services compared to the same month one year earlier.

In response to this pressing issue, the government recently announced measures it will take to stabilize the economy and normalize the situation. This includes the Finance Bill, 2023 that proposes various tax changes and amendments to the existing tax laws in Kenya. The bill was tabled in Parliament on 4 May 2023 and is expected to be passed into law by 30 June 2023. The National Treasury submitted the Bill to the National Assembly for consideration and enactment into the Finance Act 3.

The bill proposes a raft of tax changes which are geared towards expanding the tax base and raising revenues to meet the government’s ambitious budget of KES 3.6 trillion for the year 2023/2024.

While consumers may perceive an unprecedented rise in daily living expenses, it is important to note that low-income earners in Kenyan households allocate a higher portion of their income to food compared to their higher-income counterparts. Knowing this too well, most supermarkets in Kenya employ highly competitive pricing strategies, offering enticing loss-leading products to attract customers.

The rising cost of living is motivated by the scarcity of essential items experienced earlier this year. Unfavorable weather conditions across the continent, combined with the surge in energy prices, led to shortages of staple crops, fresh fruits, and vegetables. The Russia-Ukraine war-related shocks and the global trade friction has further exacerbated the situation. All these factors have resulted in Kenyan supermarkets and other food traders raising prices of basic commodities.

Farmers, too, are grappling with these challenges. Unpredictable weather patterns, attributed to the effects of climate change, have eroded the confidence of arable growers. Additionally, the escalating costs of energy have forced many producer operations to cease, while outbreaks of animal diseases have negatively impacted the crops, livestock meat and poultry sectors. Notably, Kenya witnessed a drop in production last year due to diseases and high input costs. As a consequence, consumers are facing the ripple effects.

Notwithstanding, the rising food prices do not translate into increased earnings for farmers. Several studies conducted previously revealed that farmers receive less than their production investment costs due to the extensive losses incurred in long supply chains, as well as the competitive pricing strategies adopted by most retail buyers. Conversely, studies have also indicated that farmers receive a more substantial share of the revenue when their produce is sold directly to consumers through smaller, independent shops.

These mounting pressures have compelled numerous farmers to exit the industry, particularly due to an increase in input costs, labor shortages and reduced earnings. Consequent to these challenges experienced, it is highly likely that a drop in production will be witnessed in the farms this year due to a lack of incentive.

The Kenyan government has faced criticism for its financial policies, with accusations directed at the top leadership, for being “cavalier and offhand” with any short-term reforms and changes that can yield substantive and tangible results. The top leadership brass opines that the rising cost of living and surging cost of production will be less significant when the country enjoys true financial autonomy and “free trade” and movement of goods across the African continent and globally.

Moreover, farmers are anticipating reduced subsidies from the government as the basic cost of inputs and taxes continue to increase. Support from the NGO world and other institutions is also proving to be minimal since it is gradually being replaced with environmentally-focused programs. Many farmers have come to a realization that the new schemes do not compensate for the shortfall in their previous harvest seasons, potentially rendering some farms financially unviable.

All these factors highlight the multitude of complexities within Kenya’s food system. Regrettably, high prices and shortages do not appear likely to subside in the near future. Addressing these challenges will require a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach from policymakers, industry stakeholders, and the government, to ensure a sustainable and resilient agricultural sector for Kenya.


In today’s interconnected world, food systems are more than just a complex network of activities and processes. They are the lifeblood that ensures we have enough food to eat, that it’s nutritious, and that our planet can sustainably support us. These systems encompass everything from planting seeds in the ground to enjoying a meal with loved ones. It’s important for us to understand the different components and challenges of food systems so that we can tackle global issues like climate change and environmental degradation.

At the heart of any food system lies the production phase, where farmers cultivate crops, raise livestock, and harvest fish or seafood. It’s here that sustainable practices become crucial. Taking care of the soil, using water efficiently, and controlling pests in natural ways are all vital to minimize our impact on the environment and preserve our precious resources.

Once food is harvested, it goes through processing and manufacturing stages to transform it into various products. These processes, such as cleaning, sorting, cooking, and packaging, not only make our food safer and last longer but also add value to the products. Efficient food processing facilities are essential to maintain the quality of our food throughout the supply chain.

After processing, comes the distribution and logistics phase, where food is transported and delivered to markets, stores, restaurants, and institutions. A well-designed network of transportation systems, including trucks, ships, planes, and railways, helps us reduce waste and ensure that food reaches its destination on time. Effective management of logistics improves the efficiency of the entire food system.

Then, it’s up to retail outlets like supermarkets, farmers’ markets, and restaurants to make sure that food meets the needs of consumers. What we choose to buy and eat greatly influences the demand for different types of food products and shapes the overall food system. By promoting healthy and sustainable choices, we can create a resilient and nutritious food system for everyone.

Food waste and loss are significant challenges we face in our food systems. Proper management of food waste, such as recycling and composting, is vital to protect our environment and conserve resources. Minimizing food waste not only helps us use our resources wisely but also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Governments, international organizations, and regulatory bodies play a crucial role in shaping our food systems through policies, regulations, and incentives. Their actions support sustainable production methods, ensure food safety standards, and address social and economic issues related to food access and affordability. Strong policy frameworks and effective governance are essential for building resilient and equitable food systems.

Socioeconomic and cultural factors also influence our food systems. Dietary preferences, traditions, and food-related behaviors vary across different communities and impact food availability, accessibility, and affordability. It’s important for us to address these factors and create inclusive and equitable food systems that prioritize food security and improved livelihoods for all.

The concept of food systems has gained increasing attention as we face global challenges like population growth, climate change, and environmental degradation. The United Nations recognizes the importance of food systems in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 2, which focuses on ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture.

To build sustainable food systems, we need to adopt environmentally friendly and resource-efficient agricultural practices. This includes methods like organic farming, agroecology, precision agriculture, and conservation agriculture, which minimize the use of chemicals, protect soil health, conserve water, and promote biodiversity. These practices not only reduce the environmental impact but also contribute to long-term food security by preserving natural resources and making our food system more resilient to climate change.

Reducing food loss and waste is another important aspect of building a resilient food system. Approximately one-third of the food produced globally is lost or wasted, leading to significant economic, social, and environmental consequences. We can address this issue by improving post-harvest handling, and implementing better storage and transportation infrastructure. Enhanced packaging and labeling can also help in reducing food waste. Furthermore, educating consumers and raising awareness about the impact of food waste can encourage responsible consumption habits.

Inclusivity and equity are vital considerations when it comes to our food systems. Access to nutritious and affordable food is a fundamental right that should be available to all individuals. Unfortunately, hunger and malnutrition still plague millions of people worldwide. To achieve true food security, we must not only increase food production but also address underlying issues such as poverty, gender inequality, and inadequate infrastructure. Empowering small-scale farmers and marginalized communities through improved access to land, credit, markets, and agricultural technologies can make a significant difference. By doing so, we can create more equitable food systems that uplift livelihoods and ensure that everyone has access to the nourishment they need.

In the face of global challenges, building sustainable and resilient food systems has become imperative. By adopting environmentally friendly agricultural practices, reducing food loss and waste, and promoting inclusivity and equity, we can pave the way for a future where food security, nutrition, and sustainable development are achievable for all. The United Nations’ recognition of food systems as a key driver in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals highlights the urgency for us to transform our current practices and create food systems that not only nourish people but also protect our planet. It is a collective effort that requires us to work together, hand in hand, to shape a brighter future through resilient and sustainable food systems.

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An international team of researchers has achieved a significant milestone by successfully sequencing the genome of a climate-resilient bean variety, opening doors to improve food security in regions prone to drought. The sequencing of the hyacinth bean, also known as ‘lablab bean’ (Lablab purpureus), holds immense promise for expanding cultivation of this crop, which not only brings economic benefits but also adds much-needed diversity to the global food system.

Originally native to Africa, the hyacinth bean is grown across tropical regions, producing highly nutritious beans used for both human consumption and livestock feed. It has demonstrated exceptional resilience to drought and exhibits adaptability to various environmental conditions, thereby contributing to both food and economic security. Additionally, the hyacinth bean enhances soil fertility by nitrogen fixation and holds medicinal properties due to its bioactive compounds.

The extensive genetic diversity of the plant suggests the possibility of selecting adaptive genotypes tailored for different environments and climatic challenges. Despite its potential for genetic improvement to boost productivity and enable wider cultivation, especially in drought-prone areas, the full utilization of the hyacinth bean’s capabilities has yet to be realized.

Chris Jones, Program Leader for Feed and Forage Development at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Kenya and one of the lead authors of a new study published in Nature Communications, emphasized the importance of recognizing the high value of crops like the hyacinth bean for farmers struggling to produce sufficient food. While its cultivation may be smaller in scale compared to major crops, its impact on food security is significant.

In their study, the researchers identified the genomic location of crucial agronomic traits related to yield and seed/plant size. They also documented the organization of trypsin inhibitor genes, which could be targeted for breeding purposes to reduce anti-nutritional properties. Furthermore, the study traced the history of the hyacinth bean’s domestication, revealing that it occurred independently in two different locations. This finding paves the way for investigating the evolution of agronomic traits and exploring different pathways that can lead to similar outcomes.

The hyacinth bean is among several “orphan crops” that play a vital role in local nutrition and livelihoods but have received limited attention from breeders and researchers. Currently, wheat, rice, and maize account for over 40 percent of global calorie intake and receive the majority of breeding and crop improvement efforts. This lack of crop diversity renders the global food system susceptible to environmental and social instabilities. Underutilized crops like the hyacinth bean hold the key to developing diversified and climate-resilient food systems. Genome-assisted breeding emerges as a promising strategy to enhance their productivity and adoption.

Oluwaseyi Shorinola, another lead author of the study from the International Livestock Research Institute and a visiting scientist at the John Innes Centre in the United Kingdom, sees the potential for orphan crops like the hyacinth bean to pave the way for the next green revolution. The first green revolution witnessed significant advancements in major crops such as wheat and rice, and now it is time for underutilized crops to take center stage.

Notably, this research project stands out not only for its scientific breakthrough but also for its African-led approach. African scientists led the project, collaborating with international institutes. Meki Shehabu, a scientist at ILRI in Ethiopia and co-author of the study, highlighted the significance of African scientists taking a leading role in the research. Overcoming contextual challenges, such as limited sequencing facilities, computing infrastructure, and bioinformatics capacity in Africa, the team utilized low-cost portable sequencing platforms and conducted extensive capacity building initiatives. The project’s success was achieved through an Africa-based eight-month residential bioinformatics training program, promoting knowledge transfer and skill development.

You may also want to read about: The Role of Biostimulants and Climate Smart Farming

Looking ahead, the research team anticipates that the genome sequencing of the hyacinth bean will inspire further genetic improvement efforts not only for this crop but also for other underutilized indigenous crops. Their goal is to enhance food and feed availability not only in Africa but also globally.

The implications of this breakthrough extend beyond the scientific community. The findings emphasize the importance of recognizing and valuing crops based on their local significance and impact on food security, rather than solely considering their global market value. Orphan crops like the hyacinth bean may not receive the same level of attention as major crops, but their potential to improve food security in regions facing challenges such as drought is immense.

Diversifying the global food system is crucial to building resilience against environmental uncertainties and social disruptions. By embracing and harnessing the genetic diversity of underutilized crops, such as the hyacinth bean, farmers and communities can adapt to changing climatic conditions and enhance their livelihoods.

The success of this research project serves as a testament to the power of collaboration, inclusivity, and African leadership in addressing agricultural challenges. It demonstrates the importance of involving scientists from diverse backgrounds and regions to tackle complex issues and find sustainable solutions.

As the world faces increasing pressure to ensure food security for a growing population, studies like this highlight the untapped potential of indigenous crops. By investing in research, genetic improvement, and sustainable farming practices, we can unlock the full potential of underutilized crops, creating a more resilient and diverse global food system.

The groundbreaking achievements in sequencing the hyacinth bean genome not only provide a stepping stone towards enhanced food security in drought-prone regions but also offer valuable insights into the genomics of other indigenous crops. This knowledge can revolutionize agricultural practices and contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive future for global agriculture.

Eagmark Agri-Hub will continue to follow the progress of this research and provide updates on the utilization of the hyacinth bean’s genetic potential, as well as other advancements in the field of agriculture, to support a resilient and thriving agricultural sector worldwide.

You may also wan to read about: Global Citrus Production Outlook


In a world where citrus production is facing various challenges and fluctuations, South Africa’s mandarin industry is defying the odds and reaching new heights. Looking at the global citrus production outlook, South Africa’s higher citrus production, coupled with strong overseas demand will increase its exports of tangerines/mandarins by approximately 8 percent by the end of 2023 season, reaching an unprecedented record of 560,000 tons.

The European Union and the United Kingdom are the primary recipients of South Africa’s citrus bounty, accounting for 45 percent of total exports. Following closely behind are Russia and the United States, each representing 10 percent of the export market. South Africa’s fruitful partnership with the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has been a key driver behind the exponential growth of mandarin exports to the American market. Over the past five years, exports to the US have quadrupled, soaring to nearly 50,000 tons in the previous season.

Global Citrus Outlook

Source: The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service – Global Citrus Production Outlook

This upward trend is expected to continue as consumer preference for tangerines/mandarins in the United States continues to rise, bolstered by the ongoing duty-free market access provided by AGOA. While local consumption of tangerines/mandarins remains relatively smaller compared to oranges, the industry’s focus on export markets and the implementation of pest management netting have resulted in higher quality produce and reduced surplus fruit. However, there is a niche market within the country, where high-end retail chains cater to domestic consumers by offering export-grade citrus.

Looking ahead to the 2023 season, the outlook for South Africa’s citrus production is remarkably optimistic. Tangerines/mandarins are expected to see a 6 percent increase in production, reaching a total of 670,000 tons. This growth can be attributed to favorable weather conditions and the increasing number of newly planted orchards entering full production.

Over the past seven years, the area dedicated to tangerines/mandarins has experienced significant expansion, driven by global demand for seedless varieties and the comparatively higher profit margins they offer. However, this rapid growth in planted area is anticipated to slow down in the upcoming season due to concerns of softening demand and rising costs. Economic growth projections indicate potential weakening in key markets such as the European Union and the United Kingdom, accompanied by inflationary pressures that may dampen consumer spending on imported fruit.

Furthermore, challenges related to rising farm input costs, higher shipping rates, infrastructure inefficiencies, ineffective port operations, and deteriorating road networks have started to impact the industry’s profitability, limiting further investment. As a result, the forecasted growth in the area planted for tangerines/mandarins in the 2023 season is only 1 percent, amounting to approximately 28,225 hectares compared to the previous year’s estimated 7-percent growth.

Within South Africa, the Western Cape province dominates tangerine/mandarin production, accounting for 37 percent of the country’s total output. Following closely behind are the Limpopo and Eastern Cape provinces, contributing 28 percent and 25 percent, respectively. With more than 50 percent of the orchards in the country being younger than 5 years, there is a substantial potential for increased production in the coming years.

While South Africa stands at the forefront of mandarin production and export, the global outlook for citrus, including oranges, grapefruit, and lemons/limes, is experiencing fluctuations and challenges of its own.

Source: The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

For oranges, global production in the 2023 season is estimated to decrease by 5 percent, reaching 47.5 million tons. Lower production in the European Union and the United States is only partially offset by a larger crop in Egypt. In the United States, citrus production has been significantly impacted by several factors, including the spread of citrus greening disease and extreme weather events such as hurricanes.

In the European Union, citrus production is projected to decline due to unfavorable weather conditions and disease outbreaks. Spain, one of the largest citrus producers in the region, has been particularly affected by adverse weather patterns, leading to a decrease in orange production. Additionally, the spread of the citrus black spot disease has resulted in stricter import regulations imposed by the European Union, affecting the availability and trade of citrus products.

The United States, another major player in the global citrus market, has been grappling with the challenges posed by citrus greening disease. This devastating bacterial infection has significantly impacted citrus trees, leading to a decline in production and the need for extensive pest management efforts. The state of Florida, which historically produced a significant portion of the country’s oranges, has been heavily affected by citrus greening, resulting in a notable reduction in orange output.

Source: The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

To compensate for the decrease in production in traditional citrus-growing regions, Egypt has emerged as a key player in the global orange market. The country has experienced a significant increase in orange production, driven by favorable weather conditions and expanding cultivation areas. Egypt’s strategic location, allowing for convenient access to major markets in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, has further strengthened its position as a major citrus exporter.

Despite the challenges faced by the global orange industry, demand for citrus products remains strong. Oranges are a popular fruit worldwide, consumed both fresh and in processed forms such as juices and concentrates. The nutritional benefits and versatile uses of oranges continue to drive consumer demand, contributing to a steady market for orange producers.

In addition to oranges, other citrus fruits like grapefruit and lemons/limes also face their own set of challenges. Grapefruit production has been declining in several countries, including the United States, due to factors such as disease pressure, competition from other citrus varieties, and changing consumer preferences. The popularity of grapefruit has waned in some markets, leading to decreased demand.

Global Citrus Outlook

Source: The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

Lemons and limes, on the other hand, have seen a relatively stable global production trend. These citrus fruits are widely used in culinary applications, beverages, and various consumer products. However, fluctuations in production and trade can occur due to factors such as weather conditions, disease outbreaks, and market dynamics.

Source: The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

While the global citrus industry is navigating a complex landscape of challenges and opportunities, it is crucial for citrus producers to adapt to changing market conditions, invest in research and innovation, and implement effective pest and disease management strategies to ensure the long-term sustainability and profitability of the industry.

Read Full Report on the Global Citrus Production Outlook from the The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service




Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies, which provide a means of taking carbon out of the atmosphere, are one of the hottest areas of climate research, but also the most controversial. The debate over whether and how to develop CDR has been ignited by the release of the final section of the comprehensive review of climate science by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The report found that ways of capturing and storing carbon dioxide might play a role in trying to keep global temperatures within safe bounds. However, scientists and policymakers are divided. Some say the technology must be the immediate priority for research. Others urge caution, and warn against putting faith in untested technology before we have even fully deployed the reliable low-carbon technologies that we already have.

A rash of new technology startups bears witness to the potential business opportunity that many companies and investors see in CDR. These fledgling companies are exploring everything from “scrubbers” that chemically remove carbon dioxide from the air, to “biochar,” which creates fertilizer from burning wood waste without oxygen, and carbon capture and storage (CCS) by which carbon dioxide is liquefied and pumped into underground geological formations.

But the key section of the IPCC report, which ignited the controversy, was fiercely fought over by scientists and governments up until the last moments before the document was finalized. Many scientists, campaigners and green experts are unhappy with the references as they fear that giving the impression there are viable options for removing carbon dioxide might engender a false sense of security. Most CDR technologies are unproven, are likely to be limited in scope, take years to develop and will cost large amounts of money.

Friederike Otto, a lead author of the IPCC report and associate director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford, stated that the report was not intended to endorse any particular technology or solution. Instead, it was meant to highlight the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the potential role of CDR in achieving that goal.

Otto also pointed out that the IPCC report was based on the best available scientific evidence and that it did not promote any specific CDR technology. Rather, it recognized that there are different options available and that further research is needed to evaluate their potential and feasibility.

You may also want to read about: Navigating the Challenges of Climate Change in Agriculture: The Role of Biostimulants and Climate Smart Farming

Despite the controversy surrounding CDR, many experts agree that it is a critical tool in the fight against climate change. According to a report by the National Academy of Sciences, the United States could remove up to 10 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year by using a combination of natural and technological approaches.

The report found that to meet climate goals, carbon dioxide removal technologies and strategies will need to remove roughly 10 gigatons of CO2 every year by 2050. The report also discusses possible carbon dioxide removal (CDR) approaches and then discusses them in depth.

The report also noted that CDR alone cannot solve the problem of climate change, and that it must be accompanied by efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other measures.

While the development and deployment of CDR technologies remain a divisive issue among scientists, policymakers, and the public, many experts agree that they have the potential to play a vital role in mitigating the worst effects of climate change. However, it is crucial to approach the issue with caution, and to ensure that the development of these technologies is guided by scientific evidence, cost-effectiveness, and environmental sustainability.


The agriculture industry is feeling the effects of climate change, which includes invasive pests, droughts, intense weather events, and reduced crop yields. This has led growers to seek alternate means of protecting crops and increasing output while keeping the bottom line healthy.

The aim of Climate Smart Farming is to help growers adapt to and manage the risks associated with the changing climate, while creating more resilient, healthier, productive acreage to help sustainably feed a growing world population.

One of the ways growers can make their crops resilient to climate shifts and increasingly significant abiotic stressors is through biostimulants. These products are made up of naturally occurring components and help plants endure stress from drought to temperature to soil conditions. Stressed plants require more inputs to reach a desirable yield, which in turn turns up the pressure on the environment through increased nitrogen use and greenhouse-gas-producing manufacturing and shipping methods.

You may also want to read about: Antibiotic Overuse in Farming Threatens Human Immune System

Many biological companies have been targeting specific ‘stress points’ in the agronomic cycle. Products that improve cold tolerance and increase the speed of root extension into the soil are valuable, as are those that target heat stress, wind stress, and drought stress. The industry is focusing on designing products around agronomic needs, with the goal of getting a plant through the existing climate event. However, almost all of these products are designed to mitigate a stress and will only have value when applied prior to the stress.

The Plant Growth Regulator (PGR) Impasse

The agricultural industry is also facing a PGR regulatory conundrum, with agencies responsible for regulating and enforcing laws related to environmental protection – such as the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) in Kenya or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US – considering anything that acts as a PGR as a pesticide. This occurs because most products containing PGRs were used as herbicides. As a result, any product that regulates plant growth and uses that terminology is at risk of being deemed a pesticide, even if it enhances growth rather than limits it, and even if it’s a naturally occurring substance.

One potential solution to this regulatory conundrum is to establish a separate regulatory framework for biostimulants, which would allow for a more streamlined and efficient approval process. This would require a significant amount of collaboration and advocacy from the agriculture industry, as well as increased funding for research and development to better understand the mechanisms and efficacy of biostimulants.

Capitalizing on Climate Smart Agriculture and Biostimulants

Climate smart farming and the use of biostimulants are promising avenues for growers to adapt to the challenges posed by climate change while improving their bottom line and sustainability. However, it will require a concerted effort from all stakeholders in the agriculture industry to fully realize their potential and overcome the regulatory and technical challenges that currently limit their effectiveness.



The use of antibiotics in farming is endangering the human immune system by causing the emergence of bacteria that are more resistant to it, scientists have warned. According to research conducted by the Department of Biology, University of Oxford, the antimicrobial colistin, which was once used as a growth promoter on pig and chicken farms in China, has resulted in the emergence of E. coli strains that are more likely to evade the human immune system’s first line of defense.

Although colistin is now banned as a livestock food additive in China and many other countries, the findings highlight the danger of indiscriminate use of antibiotic drugs. Professor Craig MacLean, who led the research, stated that this is potentially much more dangerous than resistance to antibiotics. The accidental compromising of our own immune system to get fatter chickens is an unintended consequence of the overuse of antimicrobials in agriculture.

The study also has significant implications for the development of new antibiotic medicines in the same class as colistin, known as antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). These peptides are compounds produced by most living organisms in their innate immune response, which is the first line of defense against infection. Colistin is based on a bacterial AMP, and the extensive use of colistin in livestock from the 1980s triggered the emergence and spread of E. coli bacteria carrying colistin resistance genes, which eventually prompted widespread restrictions on the drug’s use in agriculture.

You may also want to read: USDA Develops New Avian Influenza Vaccine to Protect Poultry Industry

In the study published in the journal eLife, E. coli carrying a resistance gene called MCR-1 were exposed to AMPs known to play important roles in innate immunity in chickens, pigs, and humans. The bacteria were also tested for their susceptibility to human blood serum. The scientists found that E. coli carrying the MCR-1 gene were at least twice as resistant to being killed by human serum. On average, the gene increased resistance to human and animal AMPs by 62% compared with bacteria that lacked the gene.

The findings highlight a fundamental risk that has not yet been extensively considered. “The danger is that if bacteria evolve resistance to [AMP-based drugs], it could also make bacteria resistant to one of the pillars of our immune system,” said MacLean.

Another class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolone antibiotics are considered “critically important for human health” by the World Health Organization. Fluoroquinolones are frequently used in the treatment of severe salmonella infections in humans.

Giving medicines to animals has come under criticism as experts warn of the dangers of potentially lethal bacteria acquiring antibiotic resistance, which means treatments may no longer be effective in treating human infections. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are posing a growing threat to human health, with an estimated 1.2 million deaths worldwide in 2019.

Antimicrobial resistance poses a dire global threat – the UN has warned that as many as 10 million people a year could be dying by 2050 as a result of superbugs – and so the need for new antibiotics is pressing. There is growing interest in the potential of AMPs as drugs, and some of those in development include drugs based on human AMPs. However, MacLean and colleagues are not calling for the development of such drugs to be put on hold, but say extremely careful risk assessments of the likelihood of resistance emerging and the potential consequences are required.

The study suggests that resistance to antimicrobial peptides may have unintended consequences on the ability of pathogens to cause infection and survive within the host. The findings also highlight the urgent need for careful risk assessments of the likelihood of resistance emerging and the potential consequences, particularly for the development of new antibiotic medicines in the same class as colistin.


Agricultural companies Syngenta Crop Protection and Biotalys have joined forces to create innovative and sustainable biocontrol solutions for various crops. This new partnership aims to develop a new mode of action to tackle key pests that threaten agriculture and promote sustainable farming. Syngenta will collaborate with Biotalys to leverage their AGROBODY technology platform, a protein-based biocontrol solution, for Syngenta’s specific insect targets.

The agriculture industry is facing challenges such as resistance development, regulatory, and environmental pressures. Therefore, growers are searching for effective biological solutions to limit the negative impact on the environment and biodiversity. Biotalys has shown potential in its protein-based biocontrols to provide novel modes of actions for safe and efficient application in food and agriculture. This partnership allows Biotalys to develop and globally commercialize its innovative crop protection solutions by leveraging Syngenta’s extensive network and capabilities.

Syngenta, a global agricultural business, is committed to providing farmers with cutting-edge technologies that improve the sustainability of agriculture. Working with Biotalys as part of its agricultural innovation ecosystem is a significant step towards addressing critical farmer needs worldwide. The collaboration of both companies aims to create a pivotal role in the industry by offering growers safe, efficient, and sustainable agricultural solutions.

According to Patrice Sellès, Chief Executive Officer at Biotalys, collaborating with Syngenta is a major milestone in the company’s mission to provide growers with safe, efficient, and sustainable agricultural solutions.

The financial details and further terms of this partnership are undisclosed.


Picture this – you are a farmer based in the country side, a remote underserved and underdeveloped rural village with ownership of less than an acre under your name, subdivided into several portions for your homestead, with the rest set aside to grow crops and rear a handful of livestock, all these mostly for subsistence. You however try to make ends meet and venture into some less-capital intensive but viable agricultural pursuits like poultry farming, cultivation of some cash crop (sugarcane, tea, coffee, avocado, et cetera) or any other “high-potential”  farming initiative that take months to reach maturity and harvesting, not to mention the long hours spent tending to the crops or flock, as well as input costs incurred to ensure the product is of premium-quality to meet the market and consumers’ expectations before they can fetch somewhat, a fair price for you – which in most cases doesn’t happen and you end up unable to break-even or at a negative, just because of the “artificial” forces and odds that are always working against you!

Well, unfortunately, this is the situation most smallholder farmers in Africa are in and seldom, the circumstances change for the better despite agriculture being the backbone of many African economies – providing livelihoods for millions of people across the continent.

Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth Is!

Smallholder farmers in African often struggle to get a just compensation for their products and effort, with many facing significant challenges that limit their productivity, profitability, and ability to access markets.

Action needs to be taken to support these hardworking farmers, rather than just talking about the importance of agriculture and its potential for economic development while seated in posh “air-conditioned” offices. We must have concrete solutions and investment to address the challenges faced by farmers in accessing markets, finance, and technical skills, among other issues.

In this article, we explore some of the key factors that contribute to this situation and discuss possible solutions.

  1. Limited Access to Markets

One of the biggest challenges facing African farmers is limited access to markets. Many farmers struggle to connect with buyers who are willing to pay fair prices for their products due to inadequate transportation infrastructure, high transaction costs, and limited access to market information. This makes it difficult for farmers to earn a decent income and limits their ability to invest in their farms.

For this reason, Eagmark has developed an eCommerce Marketplace where farmers and agricultural professionals can purchase agricultural inputs at competitive prices and sell their farm produce at fair prices. This platform also connects farmers with consumers and food processors directly, helping in managing the supply chain effectively and therefore reducing the chances of food waste.

  1. Limited Access to Finance

Access to finance is essential for small-scale farmers to purchase inputs, machinery, and equipment. However, African farmers often have limited access to credit due to lack of collateral, high-interest rates, and limited farmer-oriented financial institutions. This makes it difficult for farmers to invest in their farms, improve their productivity, and access higher-value markets.

To mitigate this challenge, Eagmark’s innovative financing solution “FarmBoost”, provides financing for farmers and agribusinesses, ensuring fair access to capital and promotes social development in the sector. By providing bespoke financial lending processes and requirements, the platform aims to level the playing field and provide equal opportunities for all farmers.

  1. Lack of Technical Skills

Many African farmers lack the technical skills required to produce high-quality crops, add value to their products, and manage their farms efficiently. This often leads to low yields, poor-quality products, and difficulty in accessing higher-value markets. There is a need for improved training and extension services to help farmers improve their skills and productivity.

Thanks to solutions such as the Online Learning Campus (OLC) developed by Eagmark and dedicated to provide valuable learning resources for agricultural students, farm apprentices, farmers, and farm managers.

  1. Climate Change

Climate change is increasingly affecting agricultural productivity in Africa. Erratic rainfall patterns, droughts, and floods can damage crops, reduce yields, and affect food security. This can lead to lower incomes for farmers and make it difficult for them to get a fair deal. There is a need for climate-smart agriculture practices and technologies to help farmers adapt to the changing climate.

  1. Dependence on Middlemen

Many African farmers are dependent on middlemen to sell their products. These middlemen often exploit their lack of market knowledge and bargaining power, leading to lower prices for their products. Improved market information systems and support for farmer-led marketing initiatives can help farmers connect with buyers and improve their bargaining power. The Eagmark eCommerce Marketplace does just that by cutting the middlemen off the supply chain to try and enable fair market competition and fair market prices for farmers.

  1. Limited Access to Inputs

Many African farmers have limited access to high-quality seeds, fertilizers, and other inputs. Most often than not, this results to lower yields, lower quality products, and difficulty in accessing higher-value markets. Improving access to inputs and support for farmer-led seed production and distribution systems are some of the initiatives that can be initiated through capacitated farmer organizations.

  1. Poor Infrastructure

Poor infrastructure, such as inadequate storage facilities, lack of electricity, and poor transportation networks, can make it difficult for farmers to get their products to the market in a timely and cost-effective manner. This can lead to spoilage and damage, reducing the quality of their products and lowering their income. Prioritizing investments that improved infrastructure can leapfrog agricultural development.

Governments need to intervene and build well-networked transport infrastructure which can play a great role in ensuring farm produce take the shortest possible time to reach consumers when they are still fresh, thereby reducing the cost of investment on expensive storage equipment, and for those who cannot afford these storage facilities, which is always the case with most small-scale farmers, and their products end up going bad leading to food waste and devastating losses.

  1. Lack of Land Tenure Security

In many African countries, land tenure is insecure, with farmers having limited rights to their land. This makes it difficult for them to invest in their farms and obtain credit, and can also lead to conflicts with larger landholders or the government. With proper government interventions, here can be improved land tenure security and support for community-led land governance systems.

  1. Unfair Trade Policies

Agricultural trade policies in many countries are biased against small-scale farmers. Subsidies, tariffs, and other trade barriers can make it difficult for African farmers to compete in global markets and earn a fair price for their products. Legislation must be put in place to ensure that there is improvement in trade policies that support small-scale farmers and promote fair trade practices.

  1. Inadequate Research and Development

The infrastructure for agricultural research and development is weak in many African nations. Lack of access to cutting-edge technology, industry best practices, and market data may result from this.

In Africa’s agriculture industry, the lack of access to new technologies and techniques reduces productivity and profitability, making it more challenging for farmers to obtain a fair price. Farmers find it difficult to compete in international markets and unable to produce the right quantity or quality of crops required to earn a stable income without access to the most recent technologies. Similarly, without access to market information, farmers cannot make well-informed decisions about what crops to grow, when to sell, and how much to charge.

To address these issues, African governments and international organizations must invest in research and development infrastructure and make it more accessible to small-scale farmers. This can involve providing funding for research institutions, promoting collaboration between researchers and farmers, and disseminating information on best practices and new technologies through extension services.

Promoting public-private partnerships (PPPs) is also another strategy that can bring together government, industry, and academia to drive innovation and create sustainable value chains. PPPs can help address the gap in technology development and innovation by combining the knowledge and resources of different stakeholders.

  1. Lack of Proper Coordination among Farmers

The problem of market fragmentation is somehow a reflection of how poorly disorganized and uncoordinated African farmers are among themselves. It is a well-known fact that when farmer groups come together, they stand a chance and are in a better position to negotiate better prices for their products, as buyers would find it difficult to find alternatives elsewhere.

We have created a curriculum on “The Power of Farmer Organizations: Building a Farmers Community” available on the Eagmark Online Learning Campus (OLC). This course is designed to explore the importance of farmer organizations in building a strong and resilient farming community. It introduces the concept of farmer organizations and the key benefits they offer to farmers, including increased bargaining power, access to information and resources, and the ability to participate in policy-making processes.

  1. Gender Inequality

Putting the buzzwords and all the conundrum aside, women farmers in Africa have often faced significant barriers to accessing resources, such as land, credit, and market information.

According to a study by the World Economic Forum (WEF), women account for nearly half of the world’s smallholder farmers and produce 70% of Africa’s food. However, less than 20% of land in the world is owned by women and over 65% of land in Kenya is governed by customary laws that discriminate against women, limiting their land and property rights – something to critically think about! The WEF study highlights the perspective, but we believe that women truly form the majority or smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

These circumstances have continuously limited women’s farm productivity and profitability, and has led to lower incomes and fewer opportunities to improve their economic status.

Additionally, women farmers are often discriminated against in terms of access to productive resources, such as land, credit, and training. Women typically have less access to these resources than men, which limits their productivity and profitability. This gender inequality affects not only the women themselves but also their families and communities.

In recent times, however, there have been efforts and initiatives across many institutions, organizations and programs to promote gender equality and empower women farmers through policies and programs that promote their access to productive resources.

Eagmark Online Learning Campus (OLC) is offering a “Gender Mainstreaming in Agriculture” course that aims to equip participants with knowledge and skills on how to integrate gender considerations into agricultural policies and programs. The course is open to anyone interested in gender mainstreaming in agriculture, including policymakers, program managers, researchers, and development practitioners.

  1. Insufficient Extension Services

Extension services, such as training in new farming techniques, access to credit, and market information, are often limited in many African countries. This can limit farmers’ ability to adopt new technologies and practices and take advantage of market opportunities.

Extension services play a crucial role in supporting farmers to improve their productivity and profitability. However, they are often limited in many African countries due to inadequate funding, limited human resources, and poor infrastructure. It is therefore essential to invest in extension services and ensure that they are adequately funded, staffed, and equipped to meet the needs of farmers.

  1. Environmental Degradation

Environmental degradation, such as soil erosion, deforestation, and water pollution, is a major hindrance to full productivity of African farms and reduces their profitability. This has led to lower incomes for farmers and makes it more difficult for them to get a fair deal.

Environmental degradation affects not only the immediate productivity of farms but also the long-term sustainability of agricultural production. It is therefore essential to promote sustainable agriculture practices and invest in environmental conservation efforts to ensure that African farmers can continue to produce food and earn a fair income in the long run.

Summing It All Up

All of these factors contribute to the challenges faced by African farmers in getting a fair outcome based on their efforts and toil. While some of these issues may be difficult to address all at once, there are steps that can be taken to help farmers improve their competitiveness and position in the market, just like we are doing through Eagmark’s initiatives – plans into action – and with the right strategic partners and support, such small efforts can be compounded to make greater impacts for the betterment of the farming community and the society’s wellbeing at large – with less talk, and more action!


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working tirelessly to combat the ongoing avian influenza outbreaks. Avian flu is a highly contagious disease that can have devastating impacts on the poultry industry, causing significant economic losses for producers. The USDA is taking a multi-faceted approach to mitigate the spread of the virus, including the development of a new vaccine, enhanced biosecurity measures, and on-the-ground personnel to quickly respond to cases and prevent the disease’s spread.

The USDA is conducting trials for a new avian influenza vaccine designed to prevent the spread of the virus. The vaccine targets a specific part of the avian flu virus and is designed to be highly effective and provide long-lasting protection against the disease. The trials are being conducted in partnership with several poultry producers across the US. If successful, the vaccine could be made available to producers in the near future, providing a valuable tool in the fight against avian flu and helping to protect the health and wellbeing of both poultry and humans.

Enhanced biosecurity measures are also a crucial part of the USDA’s efforts to combat avian influenza. The department has reinforced the importance of biosecurity, enhanced surveillance, and testing, and the use of on-the-ground personnel to quickly respond to cases and prevent the disease’s spread. Biosecurity is the best defense against avian influenza, and the USDA encourages all bird owners to review resources on managing wildlife to prevent avian influenza, evaluate their biosecurity plans, and develop strategies to prevent any exposure to wild birds or their droppings.

In April 2023, the USDA held a stakeholder roundtable with poultry industry leaders and state government officials to discuss the current and future HPAI strategy and opportunities for continued collaboration. Participants had the opportunity to hear from USDA leaders and other experts from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Agricultural Research Service, which is testing a number of potential vaccines. The lessons learned since the last major HPAI outbreak have reinforced the importance of biosecurity, enhanced surveillance and testing, and on-the-ground personnel to quickly respond to cases and prevent the disease’s spread.

Since the first case of HPAI was confirmed in a commercial flock in the US in February 2022, the USDA has quick to identify cases and respond immediately to stop the virus from spreading. Thanks to collaborative state and industry partnerships and enhanced national animal disease preparedness and response capabilities, the USDA is successfully controlling this outbreak and mitigating its impact on poultry production and trade. USDA has also achieved tremendous cost-savings during this outbreak – almost 50% over the last outbreak – while also working to secure regionalization agreements and keep markets open with key trading partners.

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