Extension centers bring knowledge to farmers' doorsteps

Small holder farmers in Meru and Loitoktok are set to benefit from the knowledge gained from extension services to be provided by the community based Agribusiness Training Centers which will first be piloted in the two areas before a nationwide implementation. The initiative is set to bridge the information gap that has been created by the scarce and hardly funded government extension officers from the agricultural ministry. The ATC projects have been prompted by the immense success of Amiran Agronomists extension services which are provided to the farmers who purchase Amiran Farmers Kit. The AFK clients and trainees (farmers) have made a farming a fortune having witnessed tripling of their yields through the adoption of better farming techniques from these sessions.

Dubbed Agribusiness Training Centers, the pilot projects are an initiative of Amiran Company in conjuction with the African Borehole Initiative. The project which is rooted in the wider belief that knowledge is power tries to underline the importance of equipping the farmer with right knowledge and skills of better and modern agricultural practices which guarantees extreme success and economic independence. “Amiran Kenya noted that for Kenyans to improve their livelihood through agriculture there is need for them to acquire adequate knowledge on new farming methods and know-how (knowing how to implement, when and how) from capable countries like Israel who are well known agricultural leaders hence the inception of this idea for ATC,” noted Flora Nanjala a communication expert from Amiran Kenya.

The community based ATC initiative which is set to kick off with the launch of the first center in Loitoktok will run with an aim of freeing the farmers from the ignorance that is still keeping them bondage in the lucrative agricultural sector.  The training sessions will be based on three key principles of see, feel and learn. Farmers are invited in the ATC which are fully equipped with all the information resources on agriculture like charts and brochures, farm inputs for demonstration purposes and the trainers or field extension experts.

The training will focus on the best crop fit for the location, best farming techniques that guarantees success, best pesticides for various crops and the amount to be applied, best seeds for particular crops, best fertilizer for a particular and best methods for its’ application among others. The center will offer free consultation services to the community on the various challenges that they are encountering in their farms. This venture is set to change the trend in which the agricultural extension officers were the custodian of the farm knowledge and have dwindled over time to specialized extension officers targeting certain cash crops like coffee, tea and sugarcane while highly ignoring the majority smallholder farmers who are grappling with a lot problems in dilemma on whom to run to.

The farmer’s training programme will be managed by professional field experts fully trained by the company. They train the farmers and maintain close contact with them by giving them support and new ideas among other extension services. The training package consists of theory and practical agricultural knowledge. Trainees go through a full day training where they are introduced to Amiran’s range of modern agricultural innovations that offer top quality farming techniques. Flora noted, “We base our training module on investigations and research carried out by the company in addition to the knowledge gained from its world class suppliers and borrowed successful information from major agricultural hubs such as Israel.”

Due to the fact that the training sessions are all inclusive irrespective of whether one is a client with company, the project is deemed to receive positive response from the trainees and the community at large.  “For farmers to succeed they need to understand what they are doing. The training has played a huge part in the success of Amiran farmers and the community where the ATCs are established, farmers will now understand how to use modern technology to ensure their crops attain the maximum potential of growth. Bringing together modern innovations and top quality information on farming, explained Flora. “Farmers who have got the training from the company’s Amiran Farmers Kit (AFK) training initiative have tripled their yields and are also trainers of trainers, using the knowledge form Amiran to influence their communities, and this is the reason we are now investing in ATC to ensure total liberalization of community ignorance on better farming methods” she added.

With the ever overstretched Agricultural Extension Officers from the Ministry of Agriculture, the ATC programme will come in handy to bridge the gap of inadequate knowledge and serve a national agenda as the demand for similar services nationwide is on the rise. Loitoktok and Meru Agribusiness Training Centers are Amiran’s pilot phase and their success may prompt the company to organize for a national roll-out of training centers in the near future.