Farmers in Meru County have reaped big results in an ongoing partnership between the county government and the South Korean government to help some 1,200 households rear poultry and improve the production of Irish potatoes.
Through the Korea Programme for International Agriculture (Kopia) partnership which started in January 2020, locals in different parts of the county were able to embrace rearing indigenous chicken and Irish potatoes to generate income.
The Sh126 million project was meant to improve the performance and profitability of indigenous chicken and Irish potato value chains, as well as incomes for residents.
In addition to opening hatcheries to supply villages with chicks, the two governments trained smallholder households on best practices, including curbing diseases in both value chains. A total of 22 farmers who have achieved increased production in the two years jetted back last week from South Korea where they had gone on a learning trip.
This comes as the devolved unit builds a storage facility to curb post-harvest losses for the potatoes, grown in large areas of Buuri and Central Imenti sub-counties.
Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza, Kopia Kenya Director Dr Kim Kee Jong and South Korea’s Head of Planning at Rural Development Administration, Dr Noh Hyangju, opened the new Irish potato cold storage facility and farmers’ training centre at Murungurune in South Imenti on Tuesday.
Dr Jong said Kopia and the devolved unit started the project to improve incomes, food safety, food security and nutrition status which has seen hundreds of locals benefit.
The project of creating indigenous poultry and Irish potato model villages was implemented in six sub-counties and started with 100 households per village in January, 2020. The number of farmers increased to 1,200 in January 2022.
It has a total of 800 indigenous chicken farmers, and 400 Irish potato farmers benefiting directly, translating to 6,000 people benefiting directly.
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Among areas that benefitted from inputs, boreholes, hatcheries and training on agronomy and husbandry are Ng’onyi, Murungurune, Katheri, Ntalami, Kangeta and Mbaaria.
Farmers who previously had poor chicken breeds and lacked knowledge in poultry rearing and Irish potato production, such as Solomon Gitonga, shared their success stories.
“The project has enabled us to improve production of quality chicken and now we are able to earn good incomes and support our families,”said Gitonga, attributing increased production to training received from county agricultural officers.
Handing over the cold storage facility for potatoes, which he said will enhance value addition, Dr Jong said the Korean government was impressed by the efforts put in by local farmers and was keen to continue supporting them.
“Even though the project is supposed to be nearing its completion date, we are happy with its success,” said Dr Jong as he also handed other assistance such as motorcycle and other learning materials.
Dr Hyangju said the Korean Ambassador to Kenya had greatly supported the project.
He noted that the partnership between the two governments had led to improved production of quality chicken and potatoes for increased incomes.
He said the RDA was keen to support farmers through new technologies to improve living standards in the countries his government assists.
While thanking the Koreans for sponsoring a training of more than 20 Meru farmers in Korea, Governor Kawira said she looked forward to the enhanced partnership.
“They will train hundreds of others and increase productivity,” she said. Kawira also launched a Sh12 million Irish potato storage-cum processor at Ntirimiti in Buuri.