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4K Clubs to help nurture future farmers in schools

4K Club members of St Michael Primary School in Embu County on June 28, 2019. [Joseph Muchiri, Standard]

Joshua Mwangi struggles to remember moments that characterised his primary school life well over 40 years ago. But even with the memories fading, he fondly remembers the 4K Club, an agricultural club that was a defining moment in many pupils’ lives.

Which explains his excitement over the recent relaunch of the 4K Clubs by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

4K stands for Kuungana, Kufanya, Kusaidia Kenya, a clarion call to help the country become food secure.

Initiated by Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Anne Nyaga, the revival of the 4K Clubs was approved by the Cabinet in February.

It is set to change the dynamics of agriculture and make farming great again among the youth, presenting it as an interesting venture for children and young adults who are then likely to carry it on into adulthood.

The government envisages investing Sh850 million in the next five years. The rollout targets about 6,200 schools as centres of excellence. At the end of the five years, each centre of excellence should in turn adopt five schools to cascade the 4K model.

For Ms Nyaga, being a member of the 4K Club at St. Ursula Primary School in Nguviu, Embu County, as well as her parents’ active involvement in agriculture, ignited a love for the soil that is yet to be extinguished. After primary school, the Kangaru Girls’ alumnus became an active member of the Young Farmers Club, a model of the 4K Clubs in secondary schools.

“The Young Farmers Club’s mandate was a more mature version of that of the 4K Club, geared towards more detailed involvement in agricultural projects at local and national level. I joined members of my club in participating in exhibitions and competitions at Agricultural Society of Kenya shows, national tree-planting programs, exchange programs and workshops related to agriculture,” she says.

Beneficiaries of the 4K Clubs have a similar story to tell. Mr Mwangi says that his love for farming was cultivated from that young age and some of the techniques he uses in his daily farming activities in his Kieni West home are a result of lessons he learnt then.

“Pupils were given maize, fertiliser and hoes. We saw hybrid maize for the first time through the 4K Club. We planted some in the school farm while others were planted at home,” says Mwangi.

Often, pupils were taken to Wambugu Farm’s Agricultural Training Centre located along the Nyeri-Karatina Highway for more hands-on lessons. Sometimes, parents attended training too.

“Being a member of the 4K Club was a source of pride for many children in this agro-based nation, and it empowered thousands of children to become interested and actively involved in agriculture and environmental conservation then and now, in their adulthood,” says Ms Nyaga, who pursued a degree in Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science and Technology at Egerton University.

Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big-4 agenda covers two areas that will benefit, and benefit from, successful agricultural practices and involvement: Food Security and Universal Health. With a mandate that involves the availability of affordable food to every single Kenyan, and a focus on a preventive approach to healthcare primarily through proper diet, the Big-4 agenda needs the country, and particularly younger people, to have an interest in- and to benefit from- agriculture.

It is for these reasons that Nyaga is championing the restoration of the 4K Clubs in primary schools.

Through the Ministry of Agriculture and with the support of (Agriculture) Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, she has constantly put up a case to have the Cabinet pass a policy that will revive 4K Clubs.

In 1988, there was a push by the government for the implementation of 4K Clubs in primary schools, where there were over 14,000 registered clubs, with total membership of 420,000 pupils.

However, the numbers began to dwindle, with 83 per cent reduction in membership to 69,000 pupils and only 2,300 clubs. The clubs’ activities died off over time because pupils began to associate agricultural and environmental activities as a form of punishment.

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