SNV presides over a successful benchmarking tour for Kajiado county farmers in Makueni

SNV presides over a successful benchmarking tour for Kajiado county farmers in Makueni

Smallholder farmers account for 70-80 percent of total employment in many developing countries with majority of them being in rural areas. Often, these farmers lack adequate access to basic information in regard to inputs, seeds, fertilizers, markets and finances.

This barrier to important elements for adequate production leads to poor output, which translate to poor prices when they sell their produce. In the end, farmers get little return for their labor, which is insufficient to meet their personal needs and purchase adequate inputs.

Given this scenario, SNV (Netherlands Development Organization) through its programme HortIMPACT, has rolled out projects to assist Kenyan farmers with knowledge and requisite inputs to alleviate poverty and unlock economic imbalances in the country. So far, HortIMPACT has identified and rolled out various agricultural projects across Kenya throughout different counties.

SNV is a non-profit international development organization founded in the Netherlands in 1965, has built a long-term local presence in many of the poorest countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The global team of local and international advisors works with local partners, especially with the Dutch Embassies in those countries. Together they equip communities, businesses and organizations, with the tools, knowledge and connections they need to increase their incomes to gain access to basic services. This empowers them to break the cycle of poverty and guide their own developments.

SNV’s goal is to catalyze sustainable development processes. They support people to access and develop the capabilities, services and opportunities needed to live a healthy, productive and otherwise fulfilling life, while sustainably using the natural resources they depend on. Unlike many other development actors, SNV does not offer funding, but specializes in supporting the resourcefulness of development actors. Together they develop local capacities, strengthen governance systems, and make markets work for the poor.

On 16th January 2019, SNV organized a benchmarking tour for Kajiado county farmers in Nzaui-Kili, Kalamba ward in Makueni County, dubbed as spray service providers (SSPs). The event was organised in collaboration with the Agrochemical Association of Kenya (AAK). The tour provided an eye opening opportunity for Kajiado team to learn.

Makueni farmers who have been trained by SNV have been more successful as entrepreneurs compared to their counterparts in other counties.

Makueni is the leading county in mango production in Kenya, accounting for 60 percent of mangoes produced in the country. This allows them to export and access global markets.

Makueni farmers who have been trained by SNV have been trained to offer better and safer application of pesticides on crops and use of biological products. They are highly excelling in farming their pieces of land. The county has 105 active SNV trained farmers.

Sigrid Meijer, Project Manager HortIMPACT, said that the programme collaborates with co-operative farmer’s groups to promote their internal development. “Together with the Netherlands embassy, who is our donor, we ensure SSPs become more integrated in the market not just by providing sprays, but developing it as a business model. This will ensure better food safety for the local market.” She said.

During the benchmarking tour, the story of Anthony Kimeu, Chairman of Nzauii Farms Produce Group, thrilled the attendants. He began farming mangoes in 2000 but the yields he got were dismal until SNV and The Ministry of Agriculture the region teamed up to assist him in 2009.

“We were trained by SNV and acquired skills; mangoes increased in volumes but marketing our produce became a challenge. KEITT Exporters came in, I began contract farming and became a mediator between other farmers in Makueni.” he said.

Currently in Makueni, there is a three level tier of selling produce: exporter, local market and the Makueni fruit processing plant, which is situated in Nzauii-Kili Kalamba. The plant was constructed by the County Government with the aid from European Union.

Nzauii-Kili Kalamba is a hub of mangoes and the place was earmarked by the former Head of state Mwai Kibaki for the construction of the processing plant when he visited the area.

Besides growing mangoes, Anthony Kimeu grafts seedlings, provides consulting services, and spray services. The advice he offers to Kajiado SSPs is that for them to succeed, they have to be readily available and create interest in farming as a success. “That is when opportunity meets preparedness,” he advised.

Kajiado farmers also got the rare opportunity to learn on how waste chemical containers should be properly discarded, as most of the effluents are very hazardous when released to environment.

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