More Kenyans can now readily access both commercial and agricultural irrigation equipment after leading Water and Energy Solutions Company Davis & Shirtliff launched a new segment, irrigation, for all its branches country-wide.
The products in the new segment include pop ups sprinklers, valves, controllers, hose reel sprinklers, centre pivots and drip line systems for various agricultural and commercial applications such as lawn and golf sprinklers in 24 counties.
The launch will not only see farmers both small scale and large scale in all counties accessing irrigation products more readily but also products that are designed to optimize the use of water and ultimately help in water conservation.
‘’Enhancing irrigation is essential for advancing and sustaining in the long-term the Government’s Big Four Agenda. Food security is one of the pillars which the country is deliberately moving towards in the next five years, and our ability to meet that goal will be determined by best practices in farming technology. Irrigation presents our farmers with an opportunity to meet required productivity and increase yields, which will guarantee enough for both our domestic use and exports,’’ said Davis & Shirtliff CEO David Gatende.
A recent study by the 2030 Water Resources Group identified the main reasons hindering farmers from implementing irrigation schemes in their lands. Among them was the fact that farmers are unaware of the benefits of irrigation, believing irrigation technology is not yet common which sees them prefer common practice for generations.
Another key challenge given was the difficulty in reaching remote populations, which Davis & Shirtliff hopes to capitalize on using its extensive branch network. The firm intends to leverage on its extensive branch network of over 35 branches in the 24 counties in Kenya which will offer farmers timely and cost effective support.
Speaking at the launch held at Karura Forest, Davis & Shirtliff CEO David Gatende said that: “We do not have an effective market reach in the country in as far as irrigation products are concerned. Farmers cannot readily access irrigation products that will also help them optimize the use of water in their lands and this is part of the reason why we had to get into irrigation. We want to leverage on our extensive branch network throughout the country to make sure that farmers even in far flung counties can access these products.”
Mr Gatende added that sensitization, knowledge and coverage in the irrigation sector has been limited and the firm hopes to devolve knowledge and products to all levels.
“Davis & Shirtliff has a strong network that we believe will reach every corner of the country and we in turn hope to achieve more irrigated area and better livelihoods in our communities,” he said.
The 24 counties that will benefit from this new product line include, Nairobi, Kajiado, Kiambu, Machakos, Kitui, Embu, Meru, Nyeri, Laikipia, Garissa, Nakuru, Taita-Taveta, Turkana, Uasin Gishu, Narok, Kakamega, Trans-Nzoia, Bungoma, Kisumu, Kisii, Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale and Lamu.
According to data from the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), irrigated agriculture represents 20 percent of the total cultivated land, but contributes 40 percent of the total food produced worldwide. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the lowest portion of the cultivated area that is irrigated, just over 3 percent against almost 21 percent at global level.
FAO also noted the greatest potential for expanding irrigated agriculture, considering both land and water resources, is in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, where only one fifth of the irrigation potential has been equipped, or 7.7 million hectares out of a potential of 38 million hectares, and in the Southern America region, where only one fourth of the potential has been equipped, or 16 million hectares out of a potential of 60 million hectares.
Globally more than one third of the food is lost between field and fork, and thus also a large amount of water, needed to produce the food. While in poor countries most losses occur due to post-harvest losses, in rich countries losses are mainly due to throwing away the food that is not consumed.
In this year’s National Budget, the Treasury has allocated Sh20.25 billion to enhance food and nutrition security to all Kenyans by 2022, and Sh2.4 billion to support value addition and raise the manufacturing sector’s share to gross domestic product to 15 per cent by 2022. The Cabinet Secretary in charge of the National Treasury Henry Rotich noted that the Big Four Agenda will largely be achieved through partnership with the private sector.
The new product line is Davis & Shirtliff’s seventh segment and has been launched to complement its other business activities that include water pumps, borehole services and swimming pools among others.