Fifty agro vets in Kenya’s Kisumu County will benefit from a digital platform project initiated by Alliance for Science to improve food security.
The project will be piloted in Kisumu, Kakamega, Uasin Gishu, Nakuru, and Kirinyaga counties and will give agro vets agricultural tips.
Michael Onyango, the Head of Partnerships at Alliance of Science said the Alliance picked Kisumu for the launch because it is a food-poor county.
People need access to verified and credible information to make sound decisions regarding agricultural practices.
“We found out that 65 percent of the money someone makes in a day is spent on food. If you do the math, there is no money left in the budget for other things they need,” Onyango said in Kisumu on May 19.
He added that people need access to verified and credible information to make sound decisions regarding agricultural practices.
“We want to ensure that through the digital platform, agro vets are the first people farmers call. We will ensure they have the knowledge and credible information which they can pass on to farmers or people who ask for their services,” said Onyango.
Dr Sheila Ochugboju, the Executive Director of Alliance for Science said they are looking for platforms to reach the rural farmers with information on food security and agriculture.
The project is aimed at bridging the gap as county governments increase their capacity and employ agriculture extension officers.
“We realized that 97 percent of Kenya’s young people get information through WhatsApp. This is probably because it provides a platform for prompt feedback as well. We hope to see the impact,” she said.
She said this project is aimed at bridging the gap as county governments step up their capacity and employ agriculture extension officers.
“The former Kisumu governor, Jack Ranguma said it is important to support counties to bridge the gap where there are no extension officers,” Dr Ochugboju said.
“We have about 10,000 agro vets in the county, so if we can get even half on the digital platform, we will listen to them to understand what their problems are and what people from the communities want. We will also train them.”
All agro vets brought on board the project will enroll for online courses, paid for by Alliance for Science.
Dr Ochugboju also said the Alliance is working with agriculture officials from the counties to understand their challenges and specific needs.
“Every county is different and so products sold in agro vets are county-specific and so are the challenges. We are working with the officials from the counties so we can understand their priorities because they have strategies and plans.
“We started with Kisumu because we have a history. We understand it and its policies a lot more. We are also developing relationships with other counties to understand their priorities,” she said.
Dr Ochugboju said the aim is to ensure that rural farmers get knowledge wherever there are. “We are looking for ways of reaching as many rural farmers as possible.”
Through the project, all agro vets brought on board will have an opportunity to enroll for online courses paid for by Alliance for Science.
“The online course will have three modules and will most likely take three years. We will develop more online platforms for knowledge and we will give certificates. There is a lot of knowledge out there, so we want to make it easier for the rural farmers to get it,” she said.
Philip Pande, Alliance for Science consultant said the Alliance has already mapped out the county and started recruiting agro vets.
Ranguma, also the chair of the Savings and Credit Societies Regulatory Authority, said the project is moving the county in the right direction in the absence of agricultural extension officers.
A long-term solution is to ensure the county government recruits agriculture extension officers and deploys them across the county.
“I believe if we go through this route, we will make a great difference in food production. The agenda of production is critical as many parcels of land in the county are idle,” Ranguma said.
“But a long-term solution is to ensure the county government recruits agricultural extension officers and deploys them across the county. Extension officers should be available to assist farmers.”
A version of this article was first published in The Standard newspaper