Friday, October 23, 2015

Tree tomato field day: Knowledge sharing at its best

By Simon Munyeki
The Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MOALF), and Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society held a farmer field day on tree tomato at Peter Wamugi’s farm at Kahuruko area in Ol-Moran Ward on October 22, 2015.
Exhibitors included Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Household Economic Empowerment Programme (HEEP), Tree Is Life Trust (TILT), Syngenta Kenya, ALIN, Laikipia Produce and Marketing Cooperative Society and individual farmers.
Community members visiting various exhibition stands

The field day enabled farmers to learn good agronomics practices, value addition, production practices, agribusiness, soil management, marketing, integrated pests and disease management, value addition, Farm Records Management Information System (FARMIS), SOKO+ sms platform and harvesting and post-harvest management.
Mr. Bob Aston, ALIN ICT Trainer, and Community Facilitator said that the organization is keen in implementing strategic measures of competitiveness along the tree tomato value chain in order to empower farmers. He said that the tree tomato field day complements the earlier tree tomato workshop organized by the organization.
“ALIN is keen in addressing constraints during production, marketing, processing, and consumption. Strengthening the value chain and laying more emphasis on value addition will not only increase the shelf life of tree tomato but farmers will also be able to get better returns,” said Mr. Aston.
Mr. James Kamau, Ol-Moran Ward Agriculture officer noted that the field day provided farmers with an opportunity to enhance their production skills and learn from each other best agricultural practices.
He urged farmers to diversify in order to improve their income. He stressed on the importance of crop rotation in maintaining soil fertility, soil organic matter levels, soil structure and controlling pests and diseases.
He said that soil analysis helps in assessing soil fertility and plant nutrients. He noted that soil analysis ensures application of enough fertilizer to meet the requirements of the crop while taking advantage of the nutrients already present in the soil.
Mrs. Kigano addressing participants
“The goal of soil testing is to provide an accurate assessment of the soil’s fertility status that can be used to make fertilizer recommendations,” said Mr. Kamau.
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.
Mrs. Elcy Kigano, Ol-Moran Ward Agribusiness officer, noted that value addition of smallholder farmer’s tree tomatoes is essential in increasing their productivity, quality, and earnings. She showed farmers how to make tree tomato jam, juice, and vegetables.
She noted the increased production of tree tomato in the ward and said that farmers are able to realize better returns when they put into practice the knowledge gained during the field day. She said such avenues are vital in embracing and practicing agribusiness.
Some of the exhibited products included tree tomato juice, tree tomato jam, tree tomato vegetables, solar lamps, solar cookers, moisture meter, hermetic bags, certified hybrid seeds, fruits, and various tree tomato chemicals.
Farmer knowledge sharing is essential to the successful adoption of good agricultural practices. Opportunities provided by field days and other forums play an important role in allowing farmers to bring their unique skills and perspectives together to address various challenges that they face.
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