Miramar Foundation’s other key pillar is on Agriculture and food security. The essence of the Agricultural pillar is to support innovative farming methods that will increase food security and therefore contribute to the development goals of the Country.
The young people in particular who are more energized and creative have been given platforms through which they can develop farming structures and increase production.
The Big 4 Agenda
Under the ‘Big Four’ agenda, the Jubilee administration has prioritized delivering affordable housing, rolling out universal health coverage, increasing the share of manufacturing in the economy, and improving food security. Agriculture contributes about 51 per cent to GDP: 26 percent directly and another 25 percent indirectly. Consequently, the sector remains a major driver of the Kenyan economy, with years of strong agricultural sector growth reflecting in overall GDP growth.
Agriculture has mainly focused on Hydroponics and open field practices.
The goal of the Agriculture pillar is to support:
- Modern crop production practices
- Increase food security through higher crop yields
- Provide employment opportunities through the agricultural supply chain
- Contribute to the gross domestic product through export of produce
Hydroponics is a subset of hydroculture, which is a method of growing plants without soil by using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. Terrestrial plants may be grown with only their roots exposed to the mineral solution, or the roots may be supported by an inert medium, such as perlite or gravel. In essence, farmers grow plants in water instead of soil, which is a conventional method. The technique grows plants under controlled productivity by adding specific amount and types of nutrients to the water. Hydroponics system favors fast growth of vegetables and fodder by promoting efficient consumption of nutrients. As a result, a farmer collects higher yields within a shorter period compared to other conventional methods of growing fodder. Fodder cultivation using hydroponics takes simple science to grow crops thus requiring minimal input cost, water and time.
Developments in hydroponic systems consist of sophisticated, eco-friendly energy and water efficient designs, offering new possibilities for crop yield and quality.
Some of the new applications include urban and vertical farming, solar and seawater greenhouses using seawater for food production, and even production of food in outer space. Most people believe that a greenhouse is necessary for hydroponic crop production, but many of the traditional hydroponic plant species can be grown in the open without tunnels or any other form of protection, depending on climate, plant species and other factors.
A crop can be classified as conventional if synthetic chemicals are used to maintain the plants. A significant amount of chemical and energy input is required in conventional agriculture to produce the highest possible yield of crops. “This method usually alters the natural environment, deteriorates soil quality, and eliminates biodiversity.” Conventional agriculture was developed to make farming more efficient, but achieves that efficiency at a major cost to the environment.
The goal of conventional agriculture is to maximize the potential yield of crops. This is achieved through the application of synthetic chemicals, genetically modified organisms, and a number of other industrial products. In maintaining a conventional system, biodiversity, soil fertility, and ecosystems health are compromised. Production of these crops is beneficial to nothing but food security and economy. Once established, a conventional farm requires constant maintenance but produces maximum yields.