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    Extension network helping farmers farm & market their crop

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    By George Munene

    The Farmer Ser­vice Cen­ter is made up of a net­work of over 300 ag­ri­cul­tural ex­ten­sion work­ers in 12 counties that help farm­ers with the en­tire farm to mar­ket value chain. 

    Star­ted in Janu­ary 2020, through its ex­tens­ive net­work FSC helps farm­ers source ready mar­kets for their crops be­fore they even begin work on their farms. This is ex­ten­ded to the mar­ket­ing of their crops as well as help­ing farm­ers gain basic fin­an­cial lit­er­acy. At the farm level, farm­ers are trained on proper ag­ro­nomy and cor­rect post-har­vest hand­ling prac­tices.

    They also ag­greg­ate de­mand for products and ser­vices from dis­par­ate small­holder farm­ers—lever­aging on the eco­nom­ies of pur­chas­ing in bulk to co­ordin­ate with ag­ri­cul­tural ser­vice pro­viders and have in­puts de­livered at the local level and at sub­sid­ised costs. These products and ser­vices in­clude farm in­puts such as fer­til­isers, pesti­cides, tractor tilling ser­vices, etc.

    Re­lated News: Di­gital mar­ket­place en­rolling farm­ers to meet global de­mand

    Re­lated News: Mo­bile app con­nects more than 20,000 farm­ers dir­ectly to ex­ten­sion of­ficers

    “It is com­par­at­ively cheaper to order for 100 bags of fer­til­iser than it is for two, sim­il­arly it is far more ex­pens­ive to order tractor ser­vices to plough an acre as op­posed to hav­ing 100 acres of farm­land tilled,” ex­plains Geof­frey Wan­jala, Busia’s FSC Senior Ag­ribusi­ness Cordin­ator.

    Farm­ers are able to source for most of their in­puts from the com­fort of their homes re­du­cing the usual over­heads they would incur in trans­port costs.

    The satel­lite FSCs also in turn help buy­ers mo­bil­ise ag­ri­cul­tural com­mod­it­ies in bulk and from one cent­ral point re­du­cing their lo­gist­ics costs.

    “Our farmer ser­vice cen­ter per­sons work from their own homes, oth­ers have phys­ical cen­ters and mini agrovets at the grass­root level; help­ing bridge the mar­ket ac­cess gap for agro-in­put man­u­fac­tur­ers who mostly just have sales rep­res­ent­at­ive in­ter­act­ing with local farm­ers,” Wan­jala elu­cid­ates. 

    To keep the model run­ning and have it be im­pact­ful, Geof­frey con­tends that FSC of­fi­cials need ment­or­ing to shift from pre­vi­ously being farm­ing group lead­ers to be­come en­tre­pren­eurs; some have opened agrovets within their loc­al­it­ies as well as get­ting a cut from sup­pli­ers from the in­puts de­liv­erd to farm­ers. They also get a token of ap­pre­ci­ation from buy­ers whom they help source for pro­duce. Through the TOT, train­ing of train­ers, part­ner­ship model with com­pan­ies within the ag­ri­cul­tural space FSCs get as­sist­ance in build­ing their ca­pa­city to be more ef­fect­ive with their help to farm­ers.

    Re­lated News: Pro­cessor guar­an­tees prices for or­ganic and tra­di­tional out­grow­ers

    De­pend­ing on their re­gions, Farmer Ser­vice Centre per­son­nel are partly chosen for their spe­cial­isa­tion in the ag­ri­cul­tural value chain of the vari­ous crops. 

    The Farmer Ser­vice Net­work can also be ac­cessed on­line through Face­book where farm­ers can ac­quire ag­ribusi­ness solu­tion tips, have an­swers to any ag­ri­cul­tural ques­tions and re­ferred to the FSC of­ficers avail­able in their re­gions.

    Farmer Ser­vice Centre

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