Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Increasing Tree tomato production in Ol-Moran Ward

Bob Aston
The first Tree Tomato Value Chain Workshop taking place at Sipili Catholic Church Hall, in Ol-Moran Ward, Laikipia West Sub County got underway on September 23, 2015. More than 70 farmers drawn from Ol-Moran Ward have come together to discuss and share best practices on how to enhance farmers production skills on Tree Tomato.
The Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) has organized the workshop in collaboration with Kilimo Biashara Promoters and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.
The farmers seek to address various interventions in Tree Tomato Value Chain that include crop risk mitigation, post-harvest handling, local value addition, linkages to markets, aggregation, and value chain linkages.
Farmers being trained on Agribusiness during the workshop
Apart from enhancing farmer’s production skills on tree tomato value chain, the farmers are also sharing ideas on its production and marketing experiences. 
They are also learning about systematic record keeping. The farmers aim to catalyze the formation of tree tomato value chain business group in Ol-Moran Ward at the end of the workshop.

Speaking during the workshop, Mr. Gachara Gikungu from Kilimo Biashara Promoters noted that despite the high number of farmers in the Country, very few are practicing Agribusiness. 
“Most of us are poor because we do not know. We should realize that wealth is a function of quality goods and services hence as farmers you should ensure that you produce quality farm products,” said Mr. Gachara.
He urged farmers to change their perception and learn that they can be economically empowered through agriculture. He noted that the problem with most farmers is that they do not want to accept new farming methods and requirements.
“You will have a miserable life if you do not follow proper planting methods’’ said Gachara. Adding that there is money in agriculture but people do not realize that.
He noted that soil is a life hence farmers should take good care of their soil.  He said that achieving and maintaining appropriate levels of soil fertility, especially plant nutrient availability, is of paramount importance if agricultural land is to remain capable of sustaining crop production at an acceptable level.
Farmers being shown how SOKO+ SMS service works
“We must preserve and protect our soil. Most of us are abusing our soil by using fertilizer without knowing the quantity required in their soil.  We need to reduce wastage of fertilizer,” said Mr. Gachara.
ALIN is keen in promoting the value chain approach as this can promote inclusive economic growth as it allows the identification of specific advantage points along a chain, reducing the average cost per unit by increasing the number of units produced.
The first day of the workshop provided the farmers with an opportunity to learn about agribusiness, marketing, SOKO+ sms service, tree tomato production, and soil management.
On SOKO+ sms service, the farmers learned that the knowledge exchange and market access solution enables traders, farmers and other users to buy, sell, and get information using SMS.
The fast growing tree tomato or “matunda ya damu” in Kiswahili are resistant to most diseases and pests. Its production has been on the increase in Sipili area as most farmers diversify to fruit farming.
ALIN has strategically focused its efforts to improve the livelihoods of arid lands communities in East Africa through delivery of practical information using modern technologies. The organization has been organizing various capacity building trainings for Ol-Moran Ward farmers.
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