Winners from seven different award categories were awarded in this year’s Elgon Kenya Ministry of agriculture National Farmers Awards, now in its second year, in a glamorous event presided over by Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Cecily Kariuki.
The event which seeks to celebrate farmers for their pivotal role in feeding the nation and addressing hunger, while returning dignity to the soils, has been key in motivating more Kenyans into farming. It has been a journey that started with applications from thousands of farmers across the country, with lead sponsors and organizers Elgon Kenya Limited working with the Ministry of Agriculture and county governments’ officials transversing the country to meet the farmers both large and small scale to vet farmers’ agricultural best practices.
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 Laico Regency also brought together players in the agricultural sector drawn from government, private sector and the county government.
“While we celebrate our farmers for their immeasurable role of feeding the nation and oiling the wheels of our economy, the Farmers award ceremony is also an important gathering, that allows us to track the agricultural progress while reviewing where the rain is beating us,” said Mr. Bimal Kantaria the director of Elgon Kenya.
This year’s event was different from last year’s in scope and participation. For starters Elgon Kenya besides working with the Ministry of agriculture officials in doing the vetting of shortlisted farmers, also worked closely with the county government inorder to reach as many farmers as possible.
Both large and small scale farmers emerged the biggest winners of the night with notable winners being Oserian flower farm, Margaret Amimo a retired teacher from Vihiga county, Ronald Nyagaka from Kisii county and Fleciah Wambui from Kirinyaga county. Two new categories were added to the five, representing youth in agriculture and women in agriculture. “I was overly excited to see our deliberations with Elgon Kenya on including women and youth in the awards materialized because they are the two most important clusters in driving agricultural growth, yet are the most ignored. What we have done recognizing them tonight will go a long way in encouraging more youth into farming and making farming life easier and enjoyable for out women,” said Ms Sicily Kariuki.
The inclusion of persons with disability was also emphasized with both Mr. Kantaria and Ms Kariuki underscoring the need to have them fully recognized as key players in the agricultural sector. “We cannot afford to ignore persons with disability in our quest to recognize and reward farmers. Next year, we will definitely have a category for them because it is a journey we have to walk with them together,” said Mr. Bimal Kantaria.
As the curtains came down on the event, winners also hoped the event would rubberstamp that farming as business is the low hanging fruit for the many unemployed while building Kenya as the agricultural supply factory for the rest of Africa and world as it has been described by World Bank.
“I feel elated to have been among the winners and by just being the top youth in farming in Kenya I have already inspired and seen so many of the unemployed youth following in my footsteps because they see huge potential in what I do. It is a huge step and I thank Elgon Kenya for such a great initiative,” said Ronald Nyagaka, one f the winners.