Samuel Ndirangu, an Israeli trained agronomist is teaching farmers on crop production in a move aimed at helping them produce quality and safe crops for local consumption and export to the international market.
According to the Horticultural Crops Directorate, Kenya’s fresh produce at times face rejection in the international market due to excessive application of pesticides and attack by pests such as the False Coding Moth. In 2017 for instance, fresh produce from the country was intercepted 29 times with 17 of these related to the pest.
“The biggest challenge facing active and prospective farmers is the lack of technical knowledge to fully execute the farming venture they want. There are so many quacks misleading farmers resulting to low quality production and that’s the gap I would like to address through trainings,” said Ndirangu.
“From September 2015 to September 2016, I was lucky to get on-farm training in Israel that shaped my skills in crop production. In this, I learnt all the concepts of crop production from planting, fertilizer application, weeding, pest and disease management, watering and harvesting among others,”
Despite 20 per cent of land being arable in Israel, it is a major exporter of fresh produce and a world leader in agricultural technologies. More than half of the country is a desert and lack of water does not favor farming. However, it is known to produce 95 per cent of its own food requirements supplementing the deficit through imports of grains, oil seeds, meat, coffee, cocoa and sugar.
When he came back in 2017, Ndirangu worked as an agribusiness advisor at Latia Agribusiness till April 2018 when he secured another job as a production manager at a farm in Wangige, Kiambu County where he works to date.
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Ndirangu demonstrating to farmers on how to prepare good seedling beds in greenhouse.
He conducts training as a part time job and does up to four trainings in a month for farmers in groups of three, five and even up to 10.
“I charge Sh1500 per head. In this, I first identify a successful model farm to visit before organizing the farmers for a field visit and practical training,” said Ndirangu.
“I understand that there are many people who would to venture into farming but they do not know where to start from, trainings therefore expose them to the real farming insights on what to plant, when, where and how to,”
In May 2019 Ndirangu for example helped a Narok based farmer who had lost 30 per cent of his bulb onions to drought to install drip irrigation instead of relying on rains which are scarce in the region.
Trainings help farmers improve on production and yields as a result of adopting best agricultural practices.
The International Finance Corporation for instance reports that more than more than 16,000 small farmers have improved the quality of their coffee and more than doubled their crop yield as a result of adopting the agricultural practices recommended by them since 2011.
In this, farmers were trained on adopting good Agricultural practices (G.A.P.) that result in food that is safe and wholesome e.g. how to use organic manure. The trainings also focused on obtaining international certification, accessing new markets and improving financial literacy skills. This training builds on IFC’s Business Edge management training workshops for farmers.
Ndirangu can be reached on +254 728 019 997.