By Bett Kipsang’
The Ng’arua Maarifa Centre has upped its efforts in farmer mobilization and relationship building among service providers like companies and micro-finance institutions. A meeting between AMIRAN Kenya and Chase Bank officials and Laikipia Produce and marketing cooperative society and the Ng’arua focal group, was held at the centre on Thursday 16th January 2014. The two farmer organizations are affiliated to Ngarua Maarifa centre.
|The meeting take place near Ngarua Maarifa Centre|
The consultative and relationship building meeting was planned with a few of financial support and technology transfer to the farmers. The visit was made possible courtesy of the good networking abilities of Ngarua Maarifa Centre and the ongoing engagements with farmers in Laikipia West.
AMIRAN and Chase Bank have products targeting to promote Agri-business especially among organized groups.
“AMIRAN deals in all that a farmer needs’’ said Andrew Nguyo, an agronomist and AMIRANs regional manager based in the west rift (Nakuru-Kisumu). Nguyo said that AMIRAN has a partnership MOU with Chase Bank to provide low interest finances for farmers to buy green houses and drip irrigation technologies. They also carry out farmer’s capacity building and sale of farm chemicals among other farm inputs.
Five cooperative members attended the meeting and appreciated the knowledge gained. “This is an eye opener to our young cooperative’’ said Samuel Mbogo the cooperative society’s vice chairman. Mbogo said that the society currently has a membership of over two hundred farmers and have collected about 120 bags of maize.
Drip irrigation Kits are available at AMIRAN Kenya in three sizes. According to Andrew the smallest kit, good for a kitchen garden is 90 meters long and sells at fourteen thousand five hundred shillings (14,500/=), followed by a kit that fits an eighth of an acre which sells at twenty three thousand five hundred shillings (23, 500) a one acre kit goes for one hundred and twenty three thousand five hundred shillings (123, 500/=).
Andrew said that it is necessary for a farmer to think critically and learn as much as possible before starting a green house business. “Green house business requires psychological preparation on the side of the farmer’’ he said. Once a farmer takes the loan the whole package comes with seeds of what the farmer decides to plant, fertilizer for all the season, a chemical sprayer bump and protective clothes used during spaying.
Andrew also encouraged farmers to access market information and start producing good quality products needed in the markets. He cited sweet pepper, which he said does well under a green house and are quite marketable when ripened to the desired level. ALIN is implementing an online and mobile phone market access project called Sokopepe, a swahili word for virtual Market, The link to the portal is(www.sokopepe.co.ke)
Andrew advised farmers on how to reduce the cost of farming to maximize on profits. Likewise, greenhouses come in different sizes and prices. An (8 by 15m) green house goes for two hundred and seventy five thousand shillings (Ksh275, 000) while an (8 by 24m) goes for (Ksh 350,000)
Farmers were encouraged to strengthen their organizations because it is easier to support them in organizations than individuals.
The meeting also attracted youths who have developed interest in joining the cooperative. James Muthee a youth from Sipili said that he will join the cooperative and reap the benefits of being a member. Also present in the meeting were; Regina Wokabi, a young lady who is a citizen journalism reporter, Bob Aston the citizen journalism trainer at Ng’arua Maarifa Centre, Noah Koinet from the ministry of Agriculture and Pauline.