UNDP Promotes Polyethylene Greenhouses in Kenya
September 2, 2011 | Andrew Burger
In recent years extended periods of drought in Kenya linked to El Nino (the warming of equatorial eastern Pacific waters) have led to problems, including land degradation and access to freshwater resources, for the large number of Kenyans that depend on farming for their livelihoods.
A group of Kenyan educational organizations, supported by the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) Adaptation Program, is promoting and fostering the use of polyethylene greenhouses as means of adapting to such changes in the country’s climate. Their use promises to increase crop yields, as well as conserve and protect the country’s increasingly precious land and water resources, according to an AlertNet report.
Growing crops under polyethylene promises a number of significant benefits in addition to increasing crop yields: reduced water needs, less need and better control of fertilizer, pesticide and fungicide doses, and lower greenhouse gas emissions prominent among them.
Their relatively high cost, however, hinders widespread adoption. An 8×30-meter greenhouse can yield twice the value of crops a typical small-scale Kenyan farmer can grow in one season, but they cost about a greenhouse season’s worth of crops to purchase, or 250,000 shillings (about $2,700).
The Kenya Polytechnics Next Generation Farmers Initiative is looking to make it easier for farmers to purchase polyethylene greenhouses. The initiative intends to equip the East African country’s youth polytechnics with greenhouses manufactured by local company Amiran Kenya. In addition to fostering growth of greenhouse farming, the program aims to enhance the attractiveness of farming to Kenyan youth. More than 100 polytechnics have been supplied with greenhouse training kits thus far.