Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Village aggregation Centre in Sipili to reduce post-harvest losses

By Bob Aston

The Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society is in the process of receiving village aggregation Centre certification from the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC). The certification is part of the support provided by EAGC towards ensuring that the cooperative succeeds as a Grain Business Hub (GBH) which is being supported by SNV- Netherlands Development Organization.
A GBH is a business characterized by amalgamation of supportive businesses/services linked to grain business that enables an organization to trade in grains efficiently, effectively and sustainably; and ensures grain suppliers (farmers) access goods and services through check-off system.
It functions as a collective of supportive businesses and services that help the production activities of member farmers. It does this through managing the collection, distribution, and marketing of food products, mainly grains, from farmers and, also, other non-members.
Speaking while touring the cooperative store on May 4, 2015, Mr. Fred Simon Otieno, Program Officer, EAGC Structured Trading Systems noted that the GBH has brought together different partners in the grain value chain.
Maize being sun dried
He said that they are currently on a profiling and ranking exercise to help determine the marketing potential of the cooperative and identify gaps that can be supported by the different development partners engaged with the cooperative. He said that EAGC will train the cooperative on Warehouse Receipting System (WRS), post-harvest handling and value addition of grains.
The certified village aggregation Centre will work under the GBH. It will enable the cooperative to buy cereals in bulk from members and then distribute and sell them to schools and other structured markets.
“As a certified village aggregation Centre the cooperative will be able to store grains to a standard required by most structured markets,” said Mr. Otieno.
The Procurement Governance for Home Grown School Feeding (PG-HGSF) which SNV has been implementing has been developing and expanding the GBH model, an initiative that further strengthens the linkages and capacities smallholder farmers have to school feeding.
 “EAGC has been supporting grain aggregation, information sharing and market linkages. We will support the cooperative as a grain business hub as we have seen that you have a huge potential,” said Mr. Otieno.
He urged the cooperative to safeguard their assets through insurance and also to ensure that basic post-harvest handling equipment’s are procured.
EAGC is a membership organization of the grain stakeholders in Eastern Africa. The stakeholders represent the three main sectors of the grain value chain including traders, farmers and processors.

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.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ng’arua Maarifa proving vital to students reviewing courses

By Moses Ndung’u
The 2014 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) candidates started an online course revision of degree and diploma programmes for the 2015/2016 placement on April 20, 2015 in an exercise that will end on May 4, 2015.
The Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) has it that all applicants will have to submit their applications online. This is in the digitization trend undertaken by the government that is set and armed to steer the country towards a fully digitized patch of the globe.
Now, for those aspiring to join the institution of higher learning, either on a regular-government sponsorship- or on a parallel basis, the work load towards achieving their dreams has been brought at a de-marginalizing distance, no intimidation no fear of the large bureaucratic arm, only the student and the KUCCPS body.
Students accessing internet at Ng'arua Maarifa Centre
Thought this is a good turn of events, most students who qualify will have to delve deep into their pockets to try to make out the money required for the application fee and also online fee paid at cyber café.
“Though KUCCPS are charging ksh 1500 the cyber people have found a gold mine by charging us a shilling per minute to access internet. This is difficult for some of us who have to spend as much as three days for a comprehensive revision,” said Nderitu Mwangi, a successful student aspiring to join the campus.
Fortunately, the presence of Ng’arua Maarifa Center in Sipili has helped many students to access online services at no cost at all.
“I have been at the Maarifa Centre almost the whole week. I am glad that it has been possible to access internet free of charge at the Maarifa. Ng’arua Maarifa Center is a blessing to us and words can’t say how much we appreciate,” said Mwangi.
According to Prof. Jacob Kaimenyi, 61,000 candidates will have the coveted opportunity of pursuing their higher education through the government sponsored regular programs. The cut-off for male students was fixed at a grade B of 60 points and a B- of 58 points for female students.
In addition all KCSE candidates with a minimum overall grade of C- (Minus) and above and who have not benefited from government sponsorship in the past will be eligible to apply for Diploma courses.

Laikipia Cooperative takes stock of its activities during AGM

By Moses Ndung’u
The Laikipia Produce and Marketing co-operative society on April 28, 2015 held its third annual general meeting (AGM) at Sipili Catholic Church Hall, Ol-Moran Ward in Laikipia West Sub County. The AGM which was supported by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) was also attended by Kilimo Biashara Profilers (KBP), cooperative officer and auditor.
The AGM provided members with an opportunity to discuss issues that included: minutes of previous AGM; cooperative elections; audited financial reports for 2013 and 2014; cooperative progress report.
Mr. Waweru Kanja, Chairman Laikipia Produce and Marketing Cooperative Society noted that as a result of engagement with other partners like ALIN, SNV, Eastern African Grain Council (EAGC), MEA Ltd, Kilimo Biashara Profilers, Kenya Seed Company Ltd and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock the cooperative has been able to reach out to its members with a variety of services and also has increased its membership, sales and community good will.
Some of the cooperative members during the AGM
“We intend to bring services closer to the people of Laikipia West Sub County. We will start by bringing agencies of various financial institutions to the doorstep of the wananchi by offering the services at a reasonable cost. It is time we developed our status, let us join hands and improve the living standards of smallholder farmers,” said Mr. Kanja.
According to the auditor, Mr. Karani, the cooperative has shown an excellent performance over a short time and could operate and expand comfortably within the next twelve months. He also advised on the need to plough back profits into the cooperative for the benefit of the members.
The Laikipia Produce and Marketing cooperative society has shown commendable performance and goal realization. On June 2013 when the cooperative was registered, membership was a bit low but within a period of one year the membership has grown to three hundred and eleven (311).
At the meeting, the realization of several objectives of the cooperative over a short span was outlined. This included a total summarized outcome surplus-profit-of Ksh 128,000 during the last fiscal year.
Mr. Anthony Githuku from the Department of Cooperative in Laikipia County commended the cooperative for ensuring farmers particularly from Sipili are able to access certified seeds and fertilizer at reasonable prices. He urged the cooperative to continue adhering to the cooperative principles in order to succeed.
As for elections, the member re-elected all the nine (9) members of the management committee. A new supervisory committee composed of three members was also set up to act as a watchdog.
The Laikipia Produce and Marketing cooperative society emerged from the work undertaken by 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.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

CBA9 courting the needs of the vulnerable through Climate Change Adaptation

By Milcah Rajula and Bob Aston
The 9th International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation (CBA9): Measuring and enhancing effective adaptation which took place at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya in April 27th- 30th, 2015 called on world leaders to address the needs of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people in this year’s key environment and development summits.
With the convergence of more than 400 participants drawn from diverse professional sectors globally: governments, civil society, scientific community, international and non- governmental organizations, they came together to discuss and share best practices on how to measure and enhance effective adaptation to climate variability and change for the poorest and most vulnerable communities.
The core participation and hosting of the event was done in collaboration with the Government of Kenya, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) and African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS).
Photo by Cgiarclimate_EA

The conference included a myriad of activities: high-level speaker panels; twenty four sessions; Participatory analysis of films; fun adaptation finance night; learning through games; interactive workshops. Pre-conference field trips had also been pre-organized to allow delegates to explore at first-hand issues related to CBA.
The CBA9 conference ended with lessons learned and the Nairobi Declaration being presented. The declaration stated the importance of addressing the needs and interests of the poorest and most vulnerable in international agreements on sustainable development, development finance and climate change.
CBA9 noted that it is the responsibility of developed countries to support the adaptation efforts of poor and vulnerable groups. To this end, there is need for governments to promote approaches to climate change adaptation that build the capacity of local actors. The engagement of vulnerable groups should be included in the process of developing goals, strategies for implementation, indicators and evaluative frameworks for adaptation.
CBA9 also reiterated the importance of securing additional, adequate and transparent adaptation financing, especially for community-level adaptation efforts. Global agreements should make an effort in increasing and accelerating finance for adaptation in poor and vulnerable communities and establish transparent mechanisms for monitoring adaptation finance.
Governments should prioritize the needs and interests of the poorest and most vulnerable in their national adaptation planning processes and provide clear, timely and accurate reporting on the extent to which adaptation finance reaches vulnerable groups.
Fatuma Hussein, Board member addressing participants. Photo by Adaptation Fund
World leaders will meet this year to draft agreements on Sustainable Development Goals, Financing for Development and Climate Change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
CBA9 urged leaders to ensure that these agreements reflect the needs, feasibility and interests of the poorest and most vulnerable. Local, regional and national governments will need to incorporate the principles of inclusiveness, community leadership and environmental sustainability into their entire plans hence effective climate change adaptation vis à vis long term financial commitment and accountability.  
IIED and partners: BCAS, created the CBA conferences to highlight that effective adaptation to climate change starts with the local actors being at the community level. Past CBA conferences have focused on scaling up best practices, ensuring a scientific basis to action, communicating and mainstreaming CBA and ensuring adaptation funding trickles to community level.
After the many days of engrossing deliberations and participatory sessions, the conference ended on a good note with set resolutions being that the national and local actors have to play a major roles in ensuring that the different targets are active participators: private sector to engage in co-investment mechanisms; the youth; poor and vulnerable; and community levels being engaged fully for maximum climate adaptation outcomes.
CBA10 shall be held in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, next year.
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