Thursday, May 23, 2013

Laikipia County unveils new Agriculture sector approach


By Bett Kipsang
ALIN's staff address participants in the meeting

The Kenya vision 2030 has identified agriculture as one of the key sectors to deliver the ten (10%) annual economic growth rate envisaged under the economic pillar. One of the ways is to establish markets access for small holder farmers through better supply chains management.

 Much of the Agriculture sector coordination is in the process of being devolved to the county government. Programs, strategies and policies are being developed to ensure that stakeholders within counties came together in Public Private Partnership (PPP) models. 

On Tuesday 21/05/2013, a meeting for Laikipia county stakeholders was held in Rumuruti district. Stakeholders in the meeting were introduced to the Agriculture Sector Development Support Program (ASDSP). 

In practice the program involves employing measures to: identify relevant stakeholders, share information with them, listen to their views, involve them in processes of development planning and decision-making, contribute to their capacity- building and ultimately empower them to initiate, manage and control their self-development.  The participants were drawn from different sectors; private sector, civil societies, GOK, and farmers.

In his presentation, Leonard Ritei the Natural resource management officer, described a stakeholder as ‘‘any individual, organization, sector or community who has a stake in the outcome of given decision or process’’ These are people or communities who may directly or indirectly, positively or negatively affect or be affected by the outcomes of projects or programs.

 ASDSP is a country wide program that envisages promoting three agricultural value chains to be selected and implemented by the stakeholders. At the initial stage, the program is identifying stakeholders operating within the county and coordinating them to deliver its goals.   

ASDSP was born out of the lessons learned during the five year period; (2003 -2007), during which, Economic Recovery Strategy (ERS) for Wealth and Employment Creation was implemented. Some of the key lessons learned are the importance of sector coordination and sector wide approach to planning and implementation and the role of the private sector in the agricultural value chains.  

The purpose of ASDSP is; ‘‘Increased and equitable incomes, employment and food security through improved production and productivity in the rural small holder and off-farm sector’’. The program’s intervention areas are; sector wide facilitation, coordination, Natural resource management, value chain development among others.

Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) is in a position to become a strategic partner in the program for its role of knowledge creation and dissemination. The organization is reputed in the county for its work of establishment of the Ng’arua Maarifa centre, support of ICT based market access (Sokopepe-www.sokopepe.co.ke), library services, ICT training, publications and citizen journalism. These are unique activities that add impetus to the quest to improve and sustain agricultural production and marketing. ALIN through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre is also supporting the formation of Laikipia Produce and marketing cooperative society and works with other partners and farmers to develop value chains.  

The forum afforded me a good opportunity to widen the circle of friends and create networks; I was given email contacts to circulate the soft copies of the Baobab Magazine.

The program will coordinate stakeholder’s forums to identify three value chains, for promoting agriculture as a commercial business. In so doing it has emerged that marketing and associated infrastructure is critical. Farmer organization into cooperatives and agribusiness needs to be revived and supported to become effective. The program also seeks to look into other marketing infrastructure such as wholesale and retail markets across the country.    

As a way forward participants agreed to mobilize other potential stakeholder to join the program and come up with ways to make the ASDSP participatory and permanent. Open days will be organized in future to disseminate information and create public awareness of the program. Stakeholders meeting will be held on quarterly basis beginning September.  
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