By James Oiyie
In the second week of April, Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) held a three days workshop in Sipili, Laikipia west to train farmers on new approaches to marketing farm produce. The workshop covered different aspects of agriculture, which included; Agricultural value chains, Marketing, Livestock niche markets, role of cooperatives among other things.
The workshop was well organized with people from the community showing positive attitude towards it. Farmers turned up in large numbers and were very patient to learn from the facilitators drawn from different organizations and professional backgrounds.
They persevered the long talks and presentations, which sometimes went past meal times, but none of them complained nor threw disappointing remarks, as is always the case in huge gatherings in other places.
Their contribution and expertise in asking questions was very encouraging having in mind that these were farmers, whom most people believe to be illiterate.
I was very amazed to hear that most farmers in Sipili have formed groups in which they operate and share ideas. This is in contrast with where I grew up! Farmers there are on their own and God for them all.
Groups have a lot of advantages in that farmers can unite and purchase inputs in bulk and thus enjoy economies of scale and thus save on their money and resources. Other farmers have groups in which they contribute some amount of money and lend to individual members in their time of need.
Sipili cereal bank is the greatest achievement I have ever heard from a group of local farmers. Where on earth did somebody come up with such a brilliant idea in such a rural setting as Sipili? Kenyans are used to government cereals and not cereal banks located in the operating focus of the farmers. I think that’s so commendable.
But there was one thing that really disappointed me! I wonder why the youths in the area shy away from such important workshops. They should learn that in this era, white-collar jobs have become a mystery to so many young Kenyans. Agriculture is the only remaining gate to good fortunes in future.
All in all Sipili farmers proved to me that they are a foot forward from an average Kenyan farmer. Thumbs up from me and keep up the spirit.
James Oiyie is currently attached to, ALIN’s Ng’arua Maarifa center.