Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Learning through knowledge sharing exchange visits

By Bob Aston
Farmer representatives drawn from 30 groups in Laikipia County on June 8-9, 2016 visited four cooperatives from Baringo County to measure their performance with other cooperatives and seek ways of improving their products and services.
The farmers learning about seed multiplication in Marigat,Baringo
The Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP) supported the knowledge sharing exchange visit in order to enable the farmer representatives to share knowledge with Mumberes Farmers Cooperative Society, Sabatia Farmers Cooperative Society, Sigoro Farmers Cooperative Society, and Marigat Farmers Cooperative Society Ltd.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries, Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), and Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) joined the farmer representatives and ASDSP during the knowledge sharing exchange visit.
Mrs. Peris Mutua, ASDSP-Laikipia Value Chain Development officer said that they decided on Baringo County to enable the farmers learn how to improve on management, resource mobilization, how to integrate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in business operations and how to run grain business hubs.
Mrs. Mutua noted that they are keen to ensure that farmer groups from Laikipia County adopt check-off system.  The system ensures that farmers access inputs and other services while the service provider receives payment for the goods or services delivered to the farmer on credit.
“We hope that our farmers would learn how their Baringo counterparts manage joint marketing, mobilise funds and engage with financial institutions and how we can ensure that our warehouses are utilized,” said Mrs. Mutua.
She noted that most farmer groups in Laikipia County have not adopted ICT in their operations. This has prevented most groups from becoming successful and running sustainable agribusiness enterprises.
“We hope that the discussion with Baringo cooperatives will enable our farmer’s close the knowledge gaps that hold them back. They will now be able to introduce new business services by tapping into ICT,” said Mrs. Mutua.
Farmer representatives from Laikipia at Mumberes Cooperative
During discussions with their Baringo counterparts, the farmer representatives learned that embracing use of ICTs could help them provide knowledge-based services to their members. This would enable them to coordinate their planning and monitoring of production and marketing systems by virtually aggregating data and use of check-off system.
Interestingly, all the cooperatives that the Laikipia County team visited are running different business enterprises and are using Management Information System software.
At Marigat Farmers Cooperative Society, the group learned that instead of relying on maize production they can diversity by investing in seed multiplication business. Most of the Marigat Farmers cooperative members prefer doing seed multiplication as the returns are better than maize production.
Mr. David Githinji, Laikipia West Crops officer noted that exchange visit are more productive compared to normal training as farmers are able to hear from their peers. He noted that the exchange visit was beneficial to farmer groups from Laikipia County as they learned more about marketing, linkages, and increasing accessibility to investment capital.
“We hope that the exchange visit will help the farmer organization leaders strengthen their business hubs as well as enhance their capacity to sell grains more efficiently and profitably,” said Mr. Githinji.
The exchange visit was part of the implementation of the ASDSP maize second concept note titled: “Promotion of environmentally resilient and socially inclusive maize production, post harvesting and marketing through Strengthening of Institutions in Laikipia County.”
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