Kenya: Odede Roots for Smart Agriculture to Address Hunger Crisis
Kilifi — Shining Hope for Communities (Shofco) Founder and CEO Dr. Kennedy Odede on Tuesday issued a cheque worth Sh866, 000 to support smart agriculture being spearheaded by community members in Kilifi County.
Speaking to over 2,000 Shofco Urban Network (SUN) members in Kiwandani Ward in Kilifi North Sub-County, Dr. Odede said he was committed to supporting smart agriculture in rural areas to address growing food insecurity.
“Solution to food shortage in the country starts at the community level. We must invest in local communities so that they can produce food not only for consumption, but also for commercial purposes,” Dr. Odede said.
Shofco has partnered with the County Government of Kilifi who will offer technical support to the community members carrying out farming in a 10-acre piece of land donated by Pwani University.
The members plan to plant maize, watermelon and all vegetables.
“We are helping you to utilise the land and get produce that can help you feed your families and take your children to school,” Dr. told SUN members.
The Shofco founder said the 10 -acre piece of land will be used for smart agriculture piloting before expanding it to another 50 acres already available in the county.
He further urged the government to invest in smart agriculture to address food challenges that he said should not be experienced in Kenya owing to its favourable climate in most parts of the country.
Through its SUN program, Shofco brings together individuals and households through social groups and organises them to actively seek tangible change in their community and society at large.
The network currently has over 2.5 million members across Kenya and has held the organisation together by identifying the most pressing challenges in their communities that need to be addressed.
Dr. Odede was joined by Kilifi County Deputy Governor Flora Mbetsa Chibule, Maendeleo ya Wanawake Kilifi branch Chairperson Witness Tsuma, and Kilifi Mums founder Kibibi Ali.
Mbetsa lauded Shofco for identifying Kilifi as one of the areas to invest in at the coast region.
“We are grateful about what Shofco is doing in Kilifi County. As the county government, we are committed to creating a conducive environment for Shofco to grow and expand more avenues for economic and social transformation,” the deputy governor said.
Boniface Munga, one of the beneficiaries of the farm, said Dr. Odede came through for them when they needed him the most.
“Odede has brought us agribusiness. Here at Kiwandani, we desperately needed someone to help us and he came through. He bought us irrigation machines, seeds, and fertilisers. We really thank him for this and may God bless him.
In July this year, Dr. Odede also issued scholarship cheques worth Ksh4million in Kilifi County where 400 students benefitted.
“When we come together, we form a powerful force. As SUN, we work together as a family to change communities. SUN has helped people to get organised and engage well with the government. SUN members also work as the government’s eye in the community and identify problems that need government’s intervention,” he stated.
Smart agriculture is close to Dr. Odede’s heart having distributed certified maize seeds worth Sh43 million in Rift Valley and Western Kenya in February this year.
Farmers from Uasin Gishu, Kakamega, Vihiga, Busia, and Nandi counties benefitted from the seeds and enjoyed bumper harvest.
In June, he donated three tractors worth Sh10.5 million and a land worth Sh4.2 million to Kakamega SUN members.
“The farmers told me it was expensive to hire tractors to till their farms. So, we decided to buy these tractors for them to use at a cheaper cost. I urge them to put the machines to good use,” Dr Odede said when he launched the three tractors at Malinya Stadium on June 30, 2022.
Dr. Odede, who recently met President William Ruto and discussed slum upgrading program, founded Shofco in 2004 in Kibera and the organisation has now spread across Kenya reaching 2.4 million people directly.
The Shofco boss is a crusader of localization of donor resources and is currently championing for community-led change globally that his organisation has used to thrive.