By Mark Okoth
Almost half of Homa Bay county residents live below the poverty line at 48.4 %. Suba South sub-county with a population of 122,383 is the most hit across the county with a share of 52.8%.
25-year-old Emmanuel Goroba who hails from Gwassi understands better the predicament of the residents. His family rely on small-scale farming and fishing to irk a living.
However, he notes that farm produce is not enough to sustain their family. He attributes the high poverty levels in the region to harsh climatic conditions and the use of traditional farming methods which do not yield quality produce.
The main economic activity in Suba South is farming with sunflower as the main cash crop, however, most farmers here engage in subsistence farming.
Goroba also acknowledges that most farmers lack knowledge of savings and investments. Besides agricultural practices, residents also rely on small-scale fishing. Similarly, fishing is also facing several challenges mainly lack regulations.
Goroba is hopeful that Suba South can see a reduced number of people living below the poverty line if they can have access to quality seeds and modern farming technology. He believes that a grain storage facility will also help especially during seasons of low productivity. At the same time, he has called for regulations in the fishing sector.
A desktop survey by Cedia Africa/Utawala (2016) reported that key challenges affecting land use and agriculture in Homa Bay include, lack of access to credit, an outbreak of pests and diseases, inadequate staff at sub-county, ward and location levels, high poverty levels and low soil fertility.
The onset of devolution was viewed as a solution to managing the high poverty levels. Consequently, the county government of Homa Bay came up with a transformative project for trade and industrialization.
The projects included a maize processing plant at Suba South which was aimed at producing quality and affordable flour for Sh20 million.
Suba South was also among four other sub-counties where the county government intended to revitalise monitoring, control and surveillance to increase fisheries productivity. This was aimed at enhancing food security and improving livelihood.
The government also planned to fully operationalize the post-harvest grain storage facility in Kigoto ( Suba South) and construct a similar facility in all eight sub-counties. Additionally, under the CDIP report, the county is projected to set aside about Sh1.2 billion to boost several agricultural activities.
The 2021 Homa bay county fiscal strategy paper listed agricultural productivity as a strategic focus which was to be achieved through sharing modern farming techniques, enhancing the storage of produce, improving seed quality and providing farm inputs. These afford were geared towards improved food security and nutrition.
Image: A Homa Bay county farmer. Source: The Star
This story was produced by Ekialo Ekiona FM in partnership with Code for Africa, Kenya Community Media Network and the Catholic Media Council with support from the German Cooperation as a part of the Our County Our Responsibility project.