An agriculture ministry addresses AIDS
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CTA. 2003. An agriculture ministry addresses AIDS. Rural Radio Resource Pack 03/02. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57290
A senior staff-member from the AIDS Control Unit of the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, discusses how agriculture, and agricultural departments, need to adapt to meet the challenge of HIV/AIDS.
Cue: In 1999 the Kenyan government declared the spread of HIV/AIDS a national disaster. As a result, tackling the spread of the virus became a task not just for the Ministry of Health, but for the whole cross-section of government departments. In the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development an AIDS Control Unit was set up to address the problems AIDS was causing among Kenya?s farming communities, and to reduce the rate of infection among farmers. But how can agriculture change to cope with the loss of manpower and income that AIDS has inflicted? To find out, Eric Kadenge visited the AIDS Control Unit, and spoke to one of the senior staff there, Dr Samuel Otieno. Eric began by asking Dr Otieno to describe the impact that AIDS has had on agricultural production in Kenya. IN: ?HIV/AIDS has affected agricultural ?? OUT: ??impact of AIDS on the farmer? DUR?N 4?00? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Dr Samuel Otieno, with some practical measures for farming communities living in the shadow of AIDS. Transcript Otieno HIV/AIDS has affected agricultural production is so many ways. First I'll quote some of the research studies which have been done locally. This was done in the commercial farms in the sugar belt in Nyanza (Province). Now they found that by 1995, the losses in agriculture due to HIV/AIDS in those commercial farms was about 296 million Kenyan shillings. Now they predicted that if the trend continues, by the year 2020 it is estimated that this will be about 2.2 billion Kenyan shillings. At the same time, in terms of human resource it was estimated that by 1990, the total number of lost workdays was about 45,000 person years. And again it is estimated that unless the trend changes, by the year 2020 the loss will be 329,000 person years. In some parts of the country for example Bondo district, we are now having 30-40% orphan headed or grandparent headed [households]. Kadenge Now given that Kenya is one of the countries with a high HIV prevalence rate and the same time a country that depends on agriculture to boost its economy, what are some of the measures that your ministry is undertaking to try and go around this problem? Otieno First at policy level the Government declared HIV/AIDS a national disaster in 1999. Now this led to the formation of the AIDS Control Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development. Now in this we have managed to train trainers, and these officers are expected to mainstream the HIV/AIDS programme in the agricultural sector by talking to their fellow colleagues and by talking to the farmers as they go visiting the farmers. Gender is a very strong issue when it comes to production in agriculture because most of our production is culture sensitive. There are specific roles for specific sexes. For example the males are mainly in cash crops and the females or women are mainly in household food security. Once you lose the man, the cash crop is affected. Studies show that the death of a man leads to the loss of about one acre of cash crops while the loss, the death of a woman leads to deterioration of food security in the household. So we are now talking to the farmers, we are telling them to diversify the knowledge. For example, there is no need for the woman to produce only specific crops while the man produces specific crops. Loss of one of them means loss of production so we are addressing the gender issues. Now the death of the farmer means loss of labour. We are now trying to tell the farmer to use less labour-intensive means of production. Kadenge When you talk of something like less labour-intensive ways of farming, what are some of the alternatives that you offer the farmer? Otieno For example we are trying to advise the farmer to go for the indigenous crops, for example sweet potatoes, cassava, kunde (cowpeas). Why? Because these crops need less labour, they need less input, and also they are very hardy and they are very highly nutritive. Now another way is the use of draught animal power. For a long time in this country we have been using animals to do the ploughing but because of harsh economic conditions, many people sold their animals. Now we are saying you go back and use drought animal power to produce. There are other innovative ways for example, minimum tillage. We are again advising the farmer, ?It's a new concept where you don't have to till the whole land. You can plant and only till minimally.? Another thing is time saving; again we realise that most of our farmers spend a lot of time doing other things for example looking for water. One report indicates that in one district, it takes up to 8 hours to get water for the household use. So we are trying to advise the farmer now, ?Why don't you harvest the water so that you save the time to go and do farm work?? We believe these measures are going to address the impact of AIDS on the farmer. End of track.