Wednesday, April 22, 2015

FARMIS Agricultural Production Report Launched

By Anthony Mugo and Milcah Rajula
The Inaugural Agricultural Production report for five sub-counties in Meru, produced using data from FARMIS was launched on April 14, 2015 at a colourful and promising event at the Meru Slopes Hotel. The launch was officiated by the County Director of Agriculture, Mrs. Dionisia M’Eruaki. Also present was the Land O’ Lakes FARMIS Portfolio Manager, Ms. Pauline Mugendi together with Sokopepe staff, led by Director, James Nguo as well as most production information agents (PIAs).
Mrs. M’Eruaki welcomed the work being undertaken by Sokopepe through the innovation known as Farm Records Management Information System (FARMIS). The initiative is aimed at supporting small scale farmers, who rarely keep records, to develop and nurture a culture of record keeping.
Robert Kintu,Managing Director, FIT Uganda addressing participants

Sokopepe is a social enterprise that has been set up by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), an NGO that works with farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Under the FARMIS initiative, each farmer invests in a Farm Book which captures information about the name of the farmer, the location of the farm (including GPS coordinates and picture), the size and key farming assets and tools owned by the farmer.  This enables the system to createa complete profile of the farmer.
During the growing season, the farmer records all aspects of the crop production cycle namely: land preparation; treatment and weed control; harvesting; post-harvest activities; and marketing. The amount of money spent at each stage is recorded. The same information is captured in digital form through a smart phone or computer and posted to a central secure server maintained by Sokopepe.
So far more than 6,000 farmers’ profiles have been captured. The piloting of the FARMIS innovation is being done in five selected sub-counties in Meru namely: Imenti Central; North Imenti; South Imenti; Buuri and Tigania West.
Following a systematic analysis of the data on farmer profiles, agriculture stakeholders such as the County and central government; agro-input providers; providers of agriculture credit and development partners can get an accurate perspective of the status of agriculture in the sub-counties targeted at any given time.
All smiles after the launch of the FARMIS Agricultural Production Report. They are from left (front row): Robert Kintu, Managing Director, FIT Uganda; Roseline Ngusa, Director Sokopepe; Pauline Mugendi, Agricultural Specialist, Land O’ Lakes/KFIE; Mrs. Dionisia M’Eruaki, Meru County Director of Agriculture; James Nguo, Director, Sokopepe and Anthony Mugo, Deployment Coordinator, Sokopepe. Back row (from left): Martin Murangiri, Training and Recruitment Manager Sokopepe and Susan Gitonga, KFIE Field Officer, Meru. Picture by Dennis Mutwiri.
Funding support for the work has been provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)through Land O’ Lakes/Kenya Feed the Future Innovation Engine.
While talking about her experience in keeping farm records under the FARMIS initiative, Hilda Kinoti, a farmer in Imenti North, said: “Although I have always grown crops and raised livestock on my farm, I have never kept records on maize, potatoes or bananas. With FARMIS, I am now able to tell if growing these crops is profitable because the record enables me to compare the cost of inputsversus the money I get when I sell the harvest.”
With the completion of the pilot period for the Project, Sokopepe desires to expand the service in all sub-counties in Meru, while working closely with the County Government and other stakeholders.
“Having seen the value added by having accurate primary data directly from farmers, we believe such data can inform many aspects of planning that can empower small scale farmers to improve their incomes, livelihoods and food security,” said Anthony Mugo, the Sokopepe Deployment Coordinator.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Laikipia Produce and Marketing cooperative set to hold second AGM

By Bob Aston
The Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society is set to hold its second Annual General Meeting (AGM) on April 28, 2015 from 10:00 am at Sipili Catholic Church Hall, Ol-Moran Ward in Laikipia West.
Mr. Kanja Waweru, Chairman, Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society has urged members to turn up in large numbers during the AGM so that they can plan for 2015 and part of 2016.
“We expect to present to the members the audited financial reports for 2013 and 2014. We also want the members to appoint 2015 auditors and we also have to plan for the cooperative election,” said Mr. Kanja.
The Laikipia Produce and Marketing cooperative society emerged from the work undertaken by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre with the support of the Ford Foundation’s Expanding Livelihoods for Poor Households Initiative (ELOPHI). It is a vehicle for bulking, marketing and trading in farm commodities and other products and services.
The cooperative members during an earlier meeting
It was started in the year 2013 by farmers from Laikipia West Sub County in Laikipia County. The Society is located in Sipili market where it has a rented store for inputs and purchase of maize.
Mr. Kanja noted that although the cooperative is still young they have managed to achieve a lot. He said that the support provided to the cooperative by partners that include; ALIN, SNV- Netherlands Development Organization, Kilimo Biashara Profilers, Eastern Africa Grain Council and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock has enabled the cooperative to undertake a lot of activities on behalf of the members.
“ We intend to become a leading  farmer   based organization,   increasing  the  wealth  ,food and  nutritional  security  of   small holder  farmers  in  Laikipia  County by empowering smallholder farmers with skills to aggregate farm produce and become agribusiness oriented,” said Mr. Kanja.
On behalf of ALIN we would like to welcome all the registered members of Laikipia Produce and Marketing Cooperative Society to the AGM which will be held at Sipili Catholic Church Hall on April 28, 2015 from 10:00 am. The AGM will be graced by among others Laikipia West cooperative officer and ALIN.

Monday, April 13, 2015

ASDSP hold weather sensitization training at Ng’arua Maarifa

By Bob Aston
The Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP) in conjunction with the Kenya Meteorological department on April 2, 2015 held a farming and weather pattern prediction training at Ng’arua Maarifa Centre, Ol-Moran Ward in Laikipia West Sub County.
The training was meant to sensitize farmers on preparedness for the long rain season in reference to weather forecasting and agriculture. This will empower farmers to understand about effects of climate change and develop suitable adaptation action plans as they prepare for unexpected climatic changes during the planting seasons.
During the training Erastus Githenya, Githiga Ward Agriculture Officer urged the farmers to learn about the importance of climate change mitigation measures. He said that farmers usually ignore meteorological findings by relying on traditional beliefs like God will provide rain hence realizing low yields when harvesting.
Githenya addressing participants
He said that weather forecasting will help them to plan their farming activities appropriately and decide wisely on the type of crop to plant and when to plant it. He urged farmers to plant crops that require minimal rainfall like cassava, sorghum and millet.
“Most Kenyans rarely follow predicted weather forecast. We have to accept that the weather pattern keeps changing and we need to change too. We want to ensure that farmers are better informed about meteorological news,” said Mr. Githenya.
Mr. Joseph Mwati, Chairman ASDSP Project Management Team (PMT), Laikipia County took farmers through traditional ways of predicting weather patterns. He said that as much as the traditional weather prediction has been reliable farmers now need to understand and integrate modern weather forecasting information into their farming calendar.
Farmers cited traditional rainfall prediction like plants that shed their branches prior to rainfall indicates a sign of heavy downpour while weaver birds predict rainfall by their mode of nesting. Less housing indicates less rainfall while more housing indicates more rainfall.
Farmers were informed that effective adaptation to climate change is dependent on access to climate information. The farmers present agreed to disseminate the information to the groups as well as attend trainings when they are called upon.
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