Sunday, November 15, 2015

Wangwachi farmers share knowledge during field day

By Bob Aston
The Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MOALF), held a farmer field day at Peter Chege’s farm at Wangwachi area of Ol-Moran Ward in Laikipia West Sub County on November 12, 2015.
The 103 farmers at the field day were able to interact with agricultural sector stakeholders and share knowledge on new farming technologies and ideas. The field day also enabled the farmers to enhance their production skills, and deliberate on how they can play an active role in the tomato value chain.
Farmer learning about Laikipia County HEEP

Some of the exhibitors included the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Eastern African Grain Council (EAGC), Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society, Ng'arua Community Development Initiative Forum, the International Small Group Tree Planting Program (TIST), Sipili Water Resource Users Association (WRUA), Twiga Chemicals Ltd, Red Cross Kenya, Bio Medica, Syngenta Kenya, Home Business Sacco, and Household Economic Empowerment Programme (HEEP).
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. James Kamau, Ol-Moran Ward Agriculture officer noted that value addition of smallholder farmer’s tomatoes is essential in increasing their productivity, quality, and earnings. He urged farmers to practice agribusiness in order to ensure they benefit from their agricultural enterprises.
He said that sharing knowledge during farmer field days is important, as farmers are able to see what others are doing. He urged farmers to increase the shelf life of tomatoes through value addition, as this will minimize the qualitative and quantitative deterioration of tomatoes after harvest.
“It is important to put into practice whatever you learn during field days. Knowledge gained during such forums can immensely benefit farmers when put into use,” said Mr. Kamau.
Farmers learning how to prepare tomato nursery
Some of the exhibited products included tomato juice, tomato jam, tomato sauce, pickles, moisture meter, hermetic bags, certified hybrid seeds, castor oil cooker, honey and bees products, dehydrated farm produce, fruits, and various chemical products.
The star attraction during the field day was the tomato value addition stand. Mrs. Elcy Kigano, Ol-Moran Ward Agribusiness officer was at the exhibition stand showing farmers how to make tomato sauce, juice, jam, and pickles.
Wangwachi, Marura, Ol-Mutuny, Ndaragwiti, Monica, and Karungubii are main tomato producing areas in the ward due to availability of dams in the areas. Ol-Moran ward produces close to 100 tonnes of tomato per season with around 40 acres under tomato cultivation. 
ALIN seeks to address constraints during production, marketing, processing, and consumption of tomato. The organization has been involved in improving communities’ access to knowledge and skills for quite some time, using platforms like field days. These experiences have helped farmers to access knowledge and information, which have helped to empower many farmers in arid areas.
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