Over 700 farmers graduate from Safaricom Foundation’s Wezesha Agri Programme in Kajiado

Over 700 farmers have graduated from Safaricom Foundation’s Wezesha Agri Programme in Kajiado County. The programme which is a partnership between Kajiado County, Africa Instore Solutions (AIS), Endev and Safaricom’s Digifarm, trains young farmers in climate-smart agriculture and creates agribusiness opportunities for them.

The 18-month programme, which Safaricom Foundation has funded to the tune of KES 23 million, encompasses a comprehensive approach to empowering farmers, which includes training in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) through demo farm initiatives, equipping farmers with entrepreneurial skills, mentoring young farmers in the adoption of agricultural technology and innovation and collaborating with partners to establish markets for the farmers.

“Wezesha Agri seeks to enable the youth to make economic strides and establish profitable agribusiness ventures. So far, we have graduated over 1000 farmers through this programme, and we look forward to transforming the lives of more Kenyans through the provision of economic empowerment opportunities,” said Joseph Ogutu, Chairman, Safaricom Foundation.

In its 2023-2026 strategy, Safaricom Foundation has incorporated agribusiness, along with enterprise development and eco-prenuership as key components of its economic empowerment programs.

As part of its training efforts, the Wezesha Agri programme has set up a demonstration farm in Kuku Ward within Kajiado South Subcounty, which targets to support and empower 1000 women and youth through capacity development.

Farmers are provided practical agriculture training at the farm in conjunction with the county government’s Agriculture Extension Officers, and introduced to climate-smart technologies and innovations that can be adopted for income generation opportunities. So far, over 1800 farmers have received training at the demo farm.

Slow Food Kenya rolls out Community food dialogues to promote community-driven advocacy on food security

Elphas Masanga from Slow Food Kenya during a Community Food Dialogue in Narok.PHOTO/Pristone Mambili.

Nakuru-based organization Slow Food Kenya has commenced a series of Community food dialogues/Barazas aimed at promoting community driven advocacy by mobilizing, raising awareness and empowering communities to lobby for pro-people policies.

The lobby group that has been advocating for clean farming that is free from artificial chemicals that have effect on both crops and humanity, believes that effective advocacy starts with grassroots movement.

Mr.Elphas Masanga from Slow Food Kenya says through the Community food dialogues/Barazas, communities will take a central role in advocating for their rights, agro-ecology, food safety and healthy food system.

This, he says, is by targeting their local opinion leaders, influencing decision makers, stakeholders and relevant audiences.

A demonstration Farm in Narok.PHOTO/Priston Mambili.

In an interview, Masanga stated that agro-ecology farming is the way to go as a country as it will help reduce numerous diseases that are brought about by harmful chemicals.

Working in 17 Counties in the country, Masanga believes the community food dialogues will go a long way in helping achieve the same.

Slow Food Kenya has already held such forums with farmers, opinion leaders and county representatives in Embu,Kirinyaga, Baringo, Nakuru, and Narok.

Masanga who spoke during such a forum at Kotolian area in Narok South, noted that they have a target to reach all the 17 counties that Slow Food Kenya is working in.

“These forums are key in creating awareness on the need to have food produced through agro-ecology which is safe. The only problem we are having in the country is consumption of food that has a lot of chemicals,” he said.

The officer also reiterated the need to embrace and ensure sovereignty of food where farmers have a decision on what is going to be consumed.

He pointed out lack of storage facilities as a major challenge to farmers especially during post- harvest stage.

It is for this reason that Slow Food Kenya has also been carrying out capacity building on how farmers can help reduce the post-harvest challenges.

Elphas Masanga from Slow Food Kenya during a Community Food Dialogue in Narok.PHOTO/Pristone Mambili.
Elphas Masanga from Slow Food Kenya during a Community Food Dialogue in Narok.PHOTO/Pristone Mambili.

“We are sensitizing our farmers so that they can improve through value-added products where the seeds are dried well and the storage facilities in use are well structured to avert loss,” he said.

The organization has also called on the government to step in and ban harmful products that are making their ways into the market and endangering the lives of farmers and Kenyans at large.

Kotolian area Assistant Chief Dickson Pere on his part called on the need for farmers to be sensitized on various challenges affecting them.He pointed out that storage of grains and more so maize is still a challenge to farmers in grassroot areas hence need for such to be addressed.

He also challenged field extension officers to do more rounds to know what farmers are going through and advice on the way forward. Sentiments echoed by local farmers in Narok South.

Led by Daniel Losirian who also doubles up as village elder, they noted that lack of the right fertilizer and quality seeds also contributed to low food production.They called on Slow Food Kenya to carry out more sensitization meetings to help farmers understand more.

 “Food production and food security go hand in hand and therefore there is more that should be done,” he said.

Nakuru aims to restore its pride as the home of Pyrethrum – Susan Kihika

Pyrethrum in Nakuru

Nakuru County has marked the beginning of a journey to achieve value addition, to maximize its agricultural potential.

The groundbreaking of the Kentegra pyrethrum factory on Monday has allowed Nakuru to restore its pride as the home of pyrethrum. H.E Susan Kihika, during the groundbreaking ceremony, said that pyrethrum farming is a flagship project, which she envisions becoming the main income-generating crop. It is currently being grown in 8 out of 11 sub-counties: Molo, Kuresoi North, Kuresoi South, Njoro, Gilgil, Naivasha, Bahati and Subukia, benefitting more than 7,056 farmers.

Inadequate funding and unavailability of seedlings, competition from higher-value crops, post-harvest losses, poor pricing, high labour costs, pests and diseases, and poor infrastructure have been some of the challenges facing pyrethrum farmers. That has decreased the exportation rate from 80% to 5%, lowering the county’s economy.

Governor Susan Kihika’s administration has teamed up with stakeholders such as Good People International and the National Government, to establish Nakuru as the county of Agro-Industry. They have provided seedlings to farmers and promoted contract farming between farmers and processors like Kentegra, Pyrethrum Processing Company of Kenya (PPCK) and Africheem Botanicals. The partnership will ensure timely payment of farmers and extension services, provision of farmers with modern driers, embracing climate-smart technologies to mitigate against drought, mobilizing farmers into cooperatives for bargaining power, fast-tracking of the pyrethrum industry policy and revisiting the legal implication ownership of PPCK assets.

In the bid to attract investors to help in lining agriculture and industry, Nakuru County is taking adequate measures to create a business-friendly environment.

“Our resolve as Nakuru County Government to restore pyrethrum as the commercial poster crop is driven by the fact that a decade ago, Kenya used to account for 80 per cent of all pyrethrum bought by international companies but was now only accounting for five per cent. We face challenges with inadequate funding, inadequate planting materials, competition from higher-value crops, post-harvest losses, poor pricing, high labour costs, pests and diseases, and poor infrastructure. We endeavour to restore the pride of Nakuru County as the home of pyrethrum.,” said H.E Governor Susan Kihika.

Hon Susan Kihika was accompanied by H.E Margaret Whitman US ambassador to Kenya, Mr Brian McKenzie Chief Executive Officer Kentegra Kenya, Nakuru County Executive Committee members and MCAs.

The groundbreaking ceremony of the factory comes at a time when plans are at an advanced stage for the commissioning of the construction of Nakuru County Aggregation and Industrial Park (CAIPS) at Egerton Agro-City in Njoro. Once completed, it will provide farmers with cold storage facilities to minimize postharvest losses, keep away predatory middlemen, and link farmers to value addition through agro-processing.

“We have the farmers, a business-friendly environment, and unlimited potential to make Nakuru an industrial hub, producing Nakuru-made products and providing employment for hundreds of our youths,” Governor Susan Kihika.

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