Saline Agriculture Conference kicks off in Kakuma

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A three-day Saline Agriculture Conference commenced in Kakuma, Turkana West Sub County. The conference brought together participants from the National and County Governments, United Nations organizations, and the private sector.

The aim of the conference was to discuss the risks, challenges, and opportunities of saline agriculture and to develop a way forward under the leadership of the National Ministry of Agriculture and the County Government of Turkana.

The conference which was organized by UK and Dutch-based experts in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as well as World Food Programme (WFP) included the private sector experts such as SeaWater Solutions, NARA, and Salt Doctors who are expected to provide both technical and operational guidance on food production with saline water, agro-ecology interventions, and commercial input for the rehabilitation of saline water infrastructure.

In his opening remarks, County Executive for Agriculture, Livestock Development and Fisheries David Erukudi outlined the potential areas for saline agriculture piloting and shared Governor the Turkana County boss, H.E Jeremiah Lomorukai’s message of goodwill to organizers of the conference.

Despite having water aquifers in different parts of the County, CECM Erukudi said that the salinity in a larger number of the water masses had negatively affected efforts by the County Government to promote crop production through irrigated agriculture.

The County Executive however, challenged the National Government to take lead by putting investment in desalination efforts noting that the County Government could not fully address the challenge due to the limited resources and funds at their disposal.

Saline Agriculture is a form of agriculture that makes use of salt-tolerant crop varieties and improved farming practices to increase the yield under saline conditions and therefore, the county Chief Officer for Agriculture and Land Reclamation Janerose Tioko described the conference as critical and added that collaboration with development partners will help tap the potentiality of Natural Resources like water which is an enabler in irrigated agriculture and pasture production.

World Food Programme Head of Kakuma Sub-Office Olivier Nkakudulu commented that Turkana County stood to benefit and overcome challenges if saline agriculture is operationalized and hence, noted that the component was in line with KISDEP and the County Government’s agenda on water and food security.

Technical Advisor to Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Agriculture & Livestock Development Emma Murangiri said the Agriculture Ministry was concerned about saline agriculture and emphasized on the need to develop homegrown solutions to tackle food insecurity.

Also present from the County Government were Director for Veterinary Services Dr Benson Long’or, Acting Directors Victor Lochee (Agriculture) and David Namwaya (Fisheries) as well Deputy Director for Livestock Marketing Ernest Anzeze and a host of technical staff.

Members of the County Assembly present included Vincent Ekipor (Lokichoggio), Amina Loitanit (Nominated), Selina Lokope (Nominated) and Sarah Abdi (Nominated).

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