By Lincoln Njiru and Peris Mutua
Low maize prices due to poor market channels have always affected farmers in most parts of the Country. In Laikipia County, maize farmers through the Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP) decided to form an umbrella organization to address the issue.
ASDSP with financial support from Kenya and Swedish Government is implementing the program in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Netherlands Development Organization, Eastern African Grain Council and Arid Lands Information Network.
|Some of the officials of the Umbrella Maize Organization|
The umbrella Maize group is improving the organization and co-ordination of the maize value chain in Laikipia County as well as championing the collective interests of the Maize Value Chain. This is towards enhancing a viable and equitable commercialization of the maize value chain.
A total of 951 farmers, 518 male and 433 female (69 youth inclusive) drawn from the umbrella directly received training on formation of groups, by-laws development, group dynamics, leadership roles, marketing, production, entrepreneurship, soil sampling and post-harvest management.
- Negotiated prices for farmers from Kshs 1,800 to Kshs 2,300 per 90 kg bag
- Drawn contract with Tech For Trade and Ng’arua Millers for enhanced marketing of farmers produce
- Opened an office in Mutanga, Marmanet Ward for proper coordination of activities
- Engaged national government for the supply of maize through Home Grown School Feeding Programme
- Sourcing for farm inputs for farmers thus reducing input cost and ensuring farmers are able to get certified seeds and subsidized government fertilizer.
|Some partners at the Maize Umbrella organization office in Mutanga,Marmanet Ward|
Mr. Waweru Kanja, Chairman Laikipia Maize Value Chain Development Network noted that farmers have been receiving an extra Kshs 500 per bag thus translating to an extra Kshs 10,000 for a farmer who is producing 20 bags of maize per acre.
“Our farmers are happy as they have increased their income. Issues of fake seeds, fertilizer, and exploitation have been addressed by the umbrella organization,” said Mr. Kanja.
He noted that they have started the process of ensuring that Ndurumo, Sipili, Divai, and Ol-Moran Cereal Banks also enjoy the Warehousing Receipting System (WRS) status as Ng’arua cooperative. This he said would enable farmers have an extra storage capacity of more than 40,000 bags.
Formation of the umbrella organization has ensured farmers have a higher bargaining power. The success of Laikipia Maize Value Chain Development Network is a clear indication that this is the way to go in ensuring better returns.