Germans pledge to local farmers on innovations

Evaline Riripon (R) an organic farmer from West Pokot explains to a delegation of German Parliamentarians who have visited Kenya about indigenous seeds at Biovision Africa Trust (BvAT) Offices next to ICIPE-Kasarani Road, Nairobi County. [Nanjinia Wamuswa, Standard]

A group of parliamentarians from Germany who are visiting Kenya are happy with the resilient and innovative nature of Kenyan farmers.

Head of the delegation Herman Faerber, speaking at Biovision Africa Trust offices in Nairobi, said they were on a mission to assess the status of agricultural projects sponsored by German government.

"We are here to see how farmers are doing and how our organisations are handling agriculture and nutrition in Kenya. We are impressed by the good work being done by Kenyan farmers," said Faerber.

Biovision Africa Trust and the German government have a partnership that seeks to transform agriculture in Kenya.

Faerber said though farmers had made great strides in their work, they still needed support because of current challenges such as the harsh weather.

"Farmers need support to grow crops that can withstand the harsh weather that is linked to climate change," he said.

He also advised on the need to embrace new technology that boost efficiency and help manage costs.

"There is need to avail efficient and affordable technologies to farmers," he said.

Biovision Africa Trust Executive Director David Amudavi praised the partnership, saying the programmes under Knowledge Centre for Organic Agriculture (KCOA), that German supports since August 2019 has benefitted many farmers.

Organic farming

The core programmes under KCOA are Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative, Knowledge Hub for Organic Agriculture in Eastern Africa Project and the Farmer Communication Programme.

"In our partnership, we have already assembled several knowledge products on different enterprises in crops and livestock and passed it to farmers in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and soon Madagascar," he said.

Under the project, they train master of trainers across the East African region, who then pass the same knowledge to Training of trainers and farmers.

Dr Amudavi said farmers are benefitting from information they have put together on various value chains like sweet potatoes which can be value added to make four, snacks and porridge.

Already, Dr Amudavi said 10,000 farmers have benefitted physically from the programme, 150,000 through awareness and 15 million through social media.

Some of the farmers who have benefitted from the project showcased organic produce that they grow, at the Biovision Trust headquarters.

Evaline Riripon from West Pokot county was trained on how to farm using farm manure land preparation, use of indigenous seeds, which has helped reduce the cost of buying fertilisers and commercial seeds.

"I learned how to produce, manage and storeindigen ous seeds and make manure on the farm. Before I joined the project, l relied on hybrid seeds and fertilisers that were expensive. At times, accessing seeds when it was time to plant was difficult," she told the delegation from Germany.

Use of manure

Another beneficiary of the project farmer Charles Mawia from Machakos exhibited various vegetables, herbs, fruits, sugarcane, macadamia, grapes, bananas, strawberry and avocado.

"I practice integrated organic farming at home. I have a small piece of land but l get enough food for me and my household. The fact that l produce without the use of fertilisers and hybrid seeds reduces my cost of production," Mawia said.

The project also helped the farmers to form groups which allowed them to share information, embrace new technologies and seek markets for their produce. Thanks to the project, farmers now enjoy a framework for value chain and market systems that link them to markets.

"We need to focus more on research, scaling up the information knowledge and training more farmers to embrace practices that are friendly to our environment and at the same time meeting our food needs in a more nutritious and safe way," said Dr Amudavi.

The project also seeks to involve more youth in farming. Towards that goal, the team is working closely with education institutions in Kenya.

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