In order to lessen the impact of adverse effects of drought, Arid and Semi-arid (ASAL) county governments have to encourage the use of science and technology in food production and embrace hydroponic farming.
Executive Director of California Miramar University-Kenya, Prof. Dominic Mwenja, during the launch of the Tana River Centre for Innovation and Youth Empowerment, stated that there is no need to continually rely on relief food distribution as there are alternative food production systems.
“We can mitigate drought by farming, instead of carrying food in trucks to distribute. We need to teach people how to grow food. No Kenyan should go to bed hungry; greenhouses can be set in very dry areas,” said Prof. Mwenja.
“No village should go hungry. when I see our people dying or being malnourished it hurts me because science and technology are there to make sure our people have food. All we need is water.”
“When you go to most places 200 meters under your feet you will find water once you bring that water up then you build a system like a Hydroponic unit, then, we can feed our people.”
The County Government of Tana River in conjunction with Marimar University has trained 102 youths on hydroponic farming at the center. The youths are expected to transition from conventional farming to smart farming.
The hydroponic unit uses the trough system. It doesn’t require soil. The nutrient in the delivery system allows you to feed the crop.
In Israel, they grow fruits in the desert because they use a hydroponic system.
“They use the sun to get water and nutrients into the plant. Therefore we can grow food in Tana River, Turkana, Garissa, and Mandera there is no reason for people to go hungry in this country.” He added.
Hydroponic farming makes use of only 20 percent of water compared to conventional farming therefore little water is required to grow food.
It uses a drip system that carries water with nutrients, the water goes through the system. The water can be recycled. Apart from the cereals, all the other crops can be grown.
Prof. Mwenja applauded the hydroponic system for revolutionizing farming saying it takes away all the chemicals you find in foods thus eliminating food poisoning and diseases like stomach cancers.
“We are also able to multiply production; we eliminate the majority of chemicals we would use outside thus addressing the issues of health problems that come with chemicals in our foods,’’ he explained.