Pomp and fanfare best described the Premier National Farmers award which saw both large and small scale farmers feted for their novel contribution to the economy and food security. A one of its kind journey that has taken one year to complete, with lead sponsors and organizers Elgon Kenya Limited working with the Ministry of Agriculture officials and other stakeholders, the team transversed every corner of the country to create awareness on the awards. The judging panel received tens of thousands of entries across the categories.
After an extensive judging period, the judges managed to narrow down to what they authoritatively felt were farmers who had displayed top notch agricultural best practices. The gala dinner, held at Sarova Panafric, and attended by major agricultural stakeholders was also graced by the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Ms Sicily Kariuki who was the chief guest. The Managing Director, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate (KEPHIS), The CEO Kenya Flower Council Mrs. Jane Ngigi, Kenya Association of Manufacturers CEO Ms Betty Maina among others graced the occasion.
“It has been a long journey. But one worth investing in. Our farmers are un appreciated, work under extreme condition, are facing new challenges like climate change, but their resolve to keep the country fed has been true and unflinching. We feel so honoured to have taken the leap of faith in celebrating their efforts,” said Bimal Kantaria, Elgon Kenya Director.
It is a message that was echoed by various speakers who took to the podium in a night that also saw Ms Kariuki serenade Elgon Kenya for taking the public private partnership to a whole new level by working with government to celebrate farmers. “We have no business as a country with rich soils, and good rainfall to have our people sticking begging bowls. This must end, it has to stop. And with such wonderful collaboration like what we have with Elgon Kenya, I know we will meet the target of making Kenya food secure in the next five years. It can be done, and we will do it,” said Ms. Kariuki.
Notable names that featured in the award night included Panda Flowers, breeder Stockman Rozen and grower Nini Limited all based in Naivasha decorated the night after winning in the large commercial farms category. Smallholder farmers equally stole the show with some of them who had surmounted all odds like the bane of weather changes and erratic markets to still keep afloat by maintaining agricultural best practices.
Notable names in this category included Dr. Nelson Nyamu who runs a dairy farm in Machakos County that has turned out to be an agricultural factory in an area buffeted by harsh climatic conditions. Harrison Muriuki a farmer from Meru county got recognition for his efforts to provide fellow farmers with low cost solution to problems in farming.
“It is a very special night. One I feel particularly honoured to be part of. We had once discussed the possibility of having this night. When we would uplifiting our farmers by giving them a national recognition. But that seemed like a pipe dream, yet here we are. It gives me so much hope and drive that we have just started something unique. Something special. And we will push it until we make sure that our farmers are recognized yearly just like they do in other sectors,” Ms Kariuki added.
And as the glitz and glamour of the night came to a successful end, in an event where meticulous attention had been to make sure that it goes down in history as a night to remember, industry players have vowed to transform agriculture in the country as we know it. “This is one of the most beautiful lands to be born with. That is why beyond doing business I strongly feel and have committed myself and the company to making sure that i will make every person in the country young and old embrace agriculture as a passion and away of earning income. We owe it to our future generation,” said Bimal Kantaria.
Other sponsors of the event included BASF, a global farm chemical powerhouse globally that has established itself locally through distribution partnerships with companies like Elgon Kenya.