A three-day Saline Agriculture Conference has commenced in Kakuma, Turkana West Sub County. The conference has brought together participants from the National and County Governments, United Nations organizations, and the private sector.
The aim of the conference is 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 has been organized by UK and Dutch-based experts in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP).
Private sector experts such as SeaWater Solutions, NARA, and Salt Doctors are also expected to provide technical and operational guidance on food production with saline water, agroecology 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 potential areas for saline agriculture piloting and shared Governor Lomorukai’s message of goodwill to organizers of the conference.
Despite having water aquifers in different parts of the County, CECM Erukudi said 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 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 limited resources and funds.
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.
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 potential 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 said Turkana County stood to benefit and overcome challenges if saline agriculture is operationalized. He 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.
She underscored the need to embrace Public-Private partnerships to mount enough resources that can invest in fodder and crop production.
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).