Nairobi - The disruption of Ukrainian agriculture caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine is creating a shortage of commodities in African countries, like Kenya, that heavily rely on imported grain and products like fertilizer and irrigation equipment.
To help meet the challenge, the U.S. government is working with Kenyan agricultural sector companies to strengthen the industry. Development agency USAID says it is critically important to invest in agriculture to reduce shocks that arise from external events.
David Gosney, the agency's mission director in Kenya, said: 'There will be more work, they will be able to capitalize new technologies in terms of seed and other productivity means and we already talked about solar agriculture irrigation and others which basically are critical factors which we are highlighting here.''
Kenyan fertilizer producers like David Auerback told VOA that his firm, Sanergy, would double organic fertilizer production. He was awarded $1.2 million to produce fertilizer for Kenyan farmers this year.
''Being able to produce locally is very valuable,' he said. 'Our organic fertilizer is increasing farmers' crop yield by 30%. We are working with about 10,000 farmers and 1,000 agrovets in just about every county in Kenya and this support from USAID helps us accelerate our production so that we can reach all these farmers even faster.''
The United States announced grants worth around $5.1 million to agricultural sector companies Monday at an American Chamber of Commerce summit in Nairobi.
FILE - U.N.-chartered vessel MV Valsamitis is loaded to deliver Ukrainian wheat to Kenya and Ethiopia, at the port of Chornomorsk on Ukraine's Black Sea coast, Feb. 18, 2023.
Moses Kuria, Kenya's minister for trade and investment, told the forum that the two nations' principles have been key to such collaborations.
''It is a joint initiative because we are negotiating on the basis of shared values, the values we share on diversity, the value we share on climate change sustainability, the value we share on digital trade,'' he said.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris has been on a weeklong visit to Africa. She has said America will increase investment in Africa and help spur economic growth in the region. Harris is the fifth top U.S. official to visit the continent this year.