BAT Kenya has upscaled its efforts towards improving livelihoods and food security of its tobacco farmers in counties in Western Kenya by supplying them with subsistence crops.

The company says it has issued more than 15,500 avocado seedlings at affordable prices to more than 1,550 contracted farmers in Migori, Homa Bay, Bungoma and Busia counties.

BAT Kenya says it will also conduct survival monitoring of the avocado trees and connect the farmers with a ready market once they start harvesting the crop.

BAT Kenya and East & Southern Africa Head of Business Communication & Sustainability Mimi Mavuti says its farmer livelihood programme, THRIVE, pushes for diversification to sustainably enhance food production, soil health and income security.

“We believe that crop diversification can help mitigate agricultural economic risk by reducing farmers’ dependency on tobacco as a single source of income. This is especially important on the back of climate change impacts,” said Mavuti.

He added, “Further, given that the tobacco crop is in the ground for only six months in a year, the subsistence crops enable farmers to drive food security and earn extra income from the sale of surplus harvest, as well as improve soil health.”

BAT Kenya has also pledged to provide its farmers with technical support and capacity building on sustainable agricultural practices to ensure the programme is sustainable.

The firm also indicated that it facilitates crop insurance for the tobacco crop for its farmers to mitigate impacts of severe weather and natural disasters occasioned by climate change.