Community members of Nyakach planting kales on the micro garden
The training session for the extension officers entered day two with a focus on the importance of urban agriculture.
While there is steady rise in human population, more people continue to starve globally hence prompting the adoption of urban farming technologies as a measure to sustain lives and to demystify the notion that farming is mainly for the rural folk.
Urban agriculture also known as urban farming, refers to growing plants and rearing animals that produce food within a city or town.
It also comprises processing and then distributing that produce throughout the city.
The green home technologies such as moist gardens, shade net, micro gardens, key hole garden, hanging gardens, multi storey garden and green houses are progressively emerging as sources of nutrition and food security in the urban and peri urban settlements.
Besides offering food security, urban farming also comes with an array of benefits including job opportunities in line with agri business, community building due to shared responsibilities, it is educative as it involves both adults, youths and children, an ambience of green spaces with aesthetic appeal, reduction of surface run offs and fixing of carbon through photosynthesis.
The emerging farming technologies do not require large parcels of land and the input is affordable hence can be done by anyone. They are also considered a form of exercise to town dwellers who are perceived to only engage in lighter activities.
The major challenge experienced with this kind of farming are the old legislative restrictions on urban farming that should be reviewed to conform to the changing times.
By: Emily Mikwa
CEC Memeber for Agriculture Mr. Gilchrist Ockuom Addressing extension officers of the during their training in Kakamega
Thirty extension officers (TOTs) from departments of Agriculture,Health, Environment,Trade & Cooperative are undergoing a five day training on Urban Agriculture Technologies, crops & Livestock, Aquaculture technologies,Food waste management,Food quality & safety, Entrepreneurship & Business Development at the Golf Hotel in Kakamega
The Trainer of Trainees (TOTs) will later be expected to train farmers and other value chain actors within Kisumu county: specifically in.KisumuWest,Kisumu East,Kisumu Central and Nyando sub counties.
The TOTs will also support grant beneficiaries through capacity building.
This comes at a time when Agriculture department is also putting up a call center to interact with farmers and fisher folk across the county. This is set to be officially launched this Wednesday.
While presiding over the official opening of the training workshop, the CEC Agriculture, irrigation, livestock and fisheries Mr. Gilchrist Okuom thanked FAO for the continued support and for coming in to fill in the gaps on production at a time when the county experienced twin disasters of floods. and Covid -19 that adversely affected production.
He reiterated that the county is doing well in production of traditional leafy vegetables. He however challenged the extension officers that the investment being put in them this day must have an impact in the lives of the people by tapping into the potentials of the adults and youths to bring back them to production.
“We must walk the talk” said Mr Okuom
On his part the FAO inclusive value chains sub program head, Mr Tito Arunga thanked the county for the cordial working relations. As partners, they are committed to improving the livelihoods of the people by impacting on them positively.
The trainings are supported by FAO Kenya under the urban food systems project in collaboration with Kisumu county government.
The session was also graced by the Chief Officer crops, Dr. Paul Omanga, Director Livestock Mr Kakuku, Director crops Mr. Okech,the facilitators Bereta Ngunjiri from Ministry of Agriculture, Rebbeca Wanjiru and Winnie Yegon from FAO, Rael Mwando from MOH, Erick Ogadho the project liaison officer, Rose Achieng the FLAG coordinator among other participants.
By Emily Mikwa
Promoting Sustainable Nutrition and Healthy Food Systems in the Urban and Peri Urban during Covid – 19 Pandemic
Members of the FLAG pose for a group photo after the meeting session at the Grand Royal Swiss Hotel, Kisumu
Poultry, Livestock and Kitchen garden farmers within Kisumu are set to benefit from 11million grant from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) through the County Government of Kisumu.
5.1million of the stated amount will go toward cushioning food producing and processing enterprises affected by the Covid -19 pandemic as a recovery strategy. The remaining 5.9 million grant will go into farm inputs and value addition equipment.
The Project dubbed integrated actions for innovative food systems across rural urban communities, targets 100 farmers receiving 100 birds each in Kisumu East, Kisumu central, Nyando and Kisumu west.
A total of 10,000 birds will be distributed to the said sub counties, 400 bags of feeds, vaccination of the birds and de-worming of dairy goats will also be done.
Speaking during the event, the CECM for Agriculture, irrigation, livestock and fisheries Mr. Gilchrist Okuom noted the adverse effects the pandemic has had on the food systems hence causing migration of people from urban to rural due to food insecurity.
This has come at a time when the Food Liaison Advisory Group ( FLAG) committee is looking at the urban food systems. He advised that this will change the mode of operation of the FLAG committee from as it were at the beginning.
He called for a concerted innovativeness and that the committee to move with speed in pushing the agenda forward in order to impact on the livelihood of those affected by the pandemic.
The FAO inclusive value chains sub program head Mr. Tito Arunga on his part acknowledged the impact of Covid – 19 on food production. He added that it has opened an opportunity for agriculture globally.
He reiterated that the role of FLAG is to work as a joint stakeholder to unlock the agricultural potentials.
He called on members to work with urgency to identify the gaps and constraints the farmers have for solutions to be reached.
” FAO intends to have a more established presence in the county to improve livelihoods of the people in the region ” said Mr. Arunga
The department of Business, Cooperatives and Marketing through their Chief Officer, Mr. Joseph Oganga pledged support in terms of modelling the program as a business for sustainability of capital, and value addition.
The forum also saw a new co- chairperson Mr. Samba Nixon Otieno Omumbo appointed taking over from Dr Abel Otieno the immediate former chairperson.
The meeting was also graced by Chief Officer Crops Dr. Paul Omanga, Chief Officer Livestock Madam Rosemary Raluoch, Facilitators : Rebecca Wanjiru Project manager FAO, Winnie Yegon FAO, Mr Erick Ogadho project liaison Officer, Madam Rose Achieng Owenga the county FLAG coordinator and members of the FLAG. By: Emily Mikwa & Lorraine Anyango
CECM Agriculture, irrigation, livestock and Fisheries, Mr. Gilchrist Okuom addressing FLAG members during a meeting at the Royal Swiss Hotel in Kisumu yesterday ( photo: David Wadulo)
The FAO inclusive value chains sub program head Mr. Tito Arunga giving his remarks during the FLAG meeting at the Royal Swiss Hotel in Kisumu
The FAO project manager, Rebecca Wanjiru making a presentation during the FLAG meeting at the Royal Swiss Hotel.
Winnie Yegon from FAO making a presentation during a flag meeting.
Mr Erick Ogadho project liaison Officer, making a presentation during the FLAG meeting at the Royal Swiss Hotel.
Mr. Samba Nixon Otieno Omumbo the newly appointed co – Chairperson of the FLAG giving his acceptance speech yesterday at the Royal Swiss Hotel.
The CEC Member for agriculture, livestock, fisheries and irrigation, Mr. Gilchrist Okuom today signed a grant agreement with Research Triangle Institute (RTI) to provide in kind grand aid of up to a total of KES 886,000 for supporting the establishment of the farmers’ helpline call center.
The farmers help line is set to work as an alternative agricultural extension services that will be provided virtually in this COVID-19 pandemic period, to mitigate the negative impacts of the pandemic on farm households and agricultural productivity.
RTI will provide in kind support to Kisumu County, 100% of the costs related to the phone service FOR the call center for 12 months, 100% of the internet costs for the call center for a period of 12 months,100% of the office chairs and for the call center and 100% of the cost of four laptops and four mobile phones for the technical officers manning the help line while Kisumu county will contribute 100% of staff salaries and 100% of office space costs for the call center.
The help line will be operational from Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 5.00pm and wll serve farmers in Kiswahili and Luo. The calls will be free of charge for the callers
Livestock farming in Kisumu is highly evolving in response to the rapidly increasing demand for dairy products in the county.
It is in this regard that the county department of Agriculture and livestock has embarked on the donation of the dairy livestock to farmers to maximize dairy production to improve food security. The department adopted the Governor’s agenda which aims to revitalize agriculture for food security and agribusiness.
Given the importance of livestock in the economic livelihoods of low-income earners, improvement of livestock production and particularly dairy farming is globally considered a promising avenue for supporting and improving household welfare.
In a bid to reinforce the dairy farmers across the county, the County directorate of livestock embarked on issuing dairy animals and poultry to promising farmers who were carefully selected and were prepared to own and keep the dairy animals’.
About 454 in-calf dairy cows have been evenly distributed to farmers in Kisumu since the year 2017 to date, with the recent distribution of 24 in-calves worth 3.1 million issued to farmers across the 7 sub-counties.
Some of the beneficiaries of the distribution include Seme dairy cooperatives in Seme Sub-county, Seke farmers dairy cooperative in Kisumu West, Kajulu Dairy cooperative in Kisumu East , Ahero farmers dairy cooperatives in Nyando , Osiepe practical Action in Muhoroni and individual farmers including, Samwel Ochieng, Mary ondego and Linet Ouko of South East Nyakach among others.
According to the CEC Member for Agriculture and livestock Mr. Gilchrist Okuom, the County government has invested in Agriculture and livestock production as a way of improving livelihoods.
Mr. Okuom also acknowledges that the department has concentrated on the high potential areas such as South East Nyakach Ward in Nyakach Sub County which he says has presented a positive performance in dairy farming. Mr. Okuom congratulated the Member of County Assembly for southeast Nyakach, Hon. Johnson Guya for the continuous investment in dairy livestock farming through development funds to the benefit of the ward.
The Southeast Nyakach ward has been earmarked as the model ward in dairy farming. Small scale farmers in the area are engaging in dairy cattle, showing prospects in the sector with a vision of becoming competitive through fostering the cooperative society and mobilizing sufficient resources to invest in modernizing and expanding the dairy enterprises.
Dairy farmers are encouraged to focus on the value addition of dairy products and this can be achieved through the formation of cooperatives. It is worth noting that by acting collectively, dairy farmers seek to overcome constraints in the marketing of their products. They need to be assured of a secure market that is real and can be met by dairy farmers cooperatively, establishing their collection system.
The department led by the CEC Member has promised to work together with the farmers to invest more in dairy farming through the donation of the animals and also providing modern technological expertise including Artificial insemination (AI) and other veterinary services
Mr. Okuom affirms that so far the previous herds of in-calves issued to farmers are healthy and he encourages farmers to change from traditional cattle to grade cows as a means to improving livelihoods. “In the face of livestock theft, dairy cattle are the best alternative to the people of Nyakach and also a means to maximizing profits due to its value addition.” Stated Mr. Okuom.
Hon. Guya is one of the MCA’s who has often invested the ward development fund in support of the dairy production with confidence that dairy cattle’s profitability outweighs traditional cattle farming in the area.
The department is hopeful that despite the challenges, Opportunities in dairy farming are more attractive and that the growth occurring in the dairy sector would create demands for supportive inputs and services in knowledge application herd health and breeding.
The challenges experienced in dairy production in the county include limited, untimely support on veterinary and extension services. However, the CEC member promises to strengthen Artificial Insemination (AI) support to dairy farming and widespread extension services that will be available on demand.
Follow-up mechanisms to support the farmers through extension services, monitoring and evaluation have been put in place to help the department in assessing the progress of livestock invested by the county government as a way of ensuring sustainability.
“As a department, we are committed to supporting farmers’ to improve the quality of dairy production” stated Chief Officer Agriculture and livestock Madam Rosemary Raluoch.
The department also invests in improved day-old chicks and Dorpe rams in which youth groups women groups and people living with disabilities have benefited from the over 21,119-day old chicks as well as 35 rams for improved livelihood.
By Matilda Atieno
In the recent past, poultry keeping was done in small scale for subsistence and not for business. Most farmers then kept indigenous chicken which took six months to be ready for the market.
It is in the light of this that the County directorate of livestock production embarked on an intensive promotion of raring improved indigenous chicken, which has proved lucrative to the farmers within the County.
Alice Akinyi, a poultry farmer in Kajulu could not hide her joy when the chicken basket team; a poultry value chain actor visited her homestead on Monday last week to purchase her broilers at a cost of Ksh. 550 each.
She received 200-day old broilers from the County livestock directorate on 24th April this year and had attained table weight just in two months.
“I am happy, I love chicken raring since they mature very fast and you can still engage in other economic activities alongside it. The droppings from the poultry has also enriched my kitchen garden, I don’t buy vegetable from the market anymore” she said
Mr. Evans Gichuru, a resident of Kisian and a second-year student at Maseno University, taking Special Needs Education, deferred his studies due to lack of fees and found a solution when he attended an agricultural meeting held by the County and FAO on poultry keeping. He became a beneficiary of 103- day old chicks two months ago, and are almost ready for the market.
“I decided to keep poultry to raise my college fees. It is a profitable project that any youth can venture into and it is easy to manage” he said.
In a bid to encourage more youths to venture into the project, the directorate also supported PASU youth group in Kaloleni by constructing for them of a poultry cage to the tune of 1.2million, supplied 1,000 day -old broilers each purchased at Ksh. 150, feeds and a deep freezer to preserve the chickens during marketing.
Timon Ogunde the chairperson of PASU youth group in Kaloleni said they took up the project to engage in a profitable business and that in the future they plan that every member of the group will have his/her own poultry and that they will share the proceeds of the same after expanding the business.
Persons with disability are also not left out in this business, Mr. Peter Osano (hearing impaired) received 100-day old chicks two months ago and they are almost attaining the market weight.
“I love keeping poultry for income, I keep many in the village and I thank the county for their support in this project” he expressed in sign language.
The project targets to improve the livelihoods of the women, Youths and the vulnerable across all the sub counties. So far, Ksh 1, 195,350 has been spent to supply day old chicks, to the targeted group in Kisumu central, Kisumu East, Nyando, and Kisumu west sub counties.
The Livestock production directorate has also partnered with the Chicken basket, a poultry value chain actor based in Kisumu to supply feeds, extension services, vaccination and ready market when they attain table weight approximately 1.7- 2kgs within three months.
By: Emily Mikwa
The County department of Agriculture and livestock today issued 24 dairy cows at a cost of 3.1 million to be distributed across the 7 sub-counties.
Speaking during the flagging off of the distribution exercise, the County Minister for Agriculture and livestock Mr. Gilchrist Okuom stated that the county government has invested in Agriculture and livestock production as a way of improving livelihoods.
The County Minister also acknowledged that the department has concentrated on the high potential areas such as South East Nyakach Ward in Nyakach Sub County which he said has presented a positive performance in dairy farming. Mr. Okuom congratulated the Member of County Assembly for southeast Nyakach, Hon. Johnson Guya for the continuous investment in dairy farming through development funds to the benefit of the ward, adding that the Southeast Nyakach is the model ward in the county in dairy farming and promising that the department will work together to support dairy farming in the area.
Mr. Okuom confirmed that the previous herd of livestock issued to farmers are healthy and he advised farmers to change from traditional cattle to grade cows as a means to improving livelihoods. “In the face of livestock theft, dairy cattle are the best alternative to the people of Nyakach and also a means to maximizing profits due to its value addition.”
Hon. Guya was confident that the cows were of the best quality, adding that the dairy cattle’s profitability outweighs traditional cattle farming in the area. He urged the department to strengthen Artificial Insemination (AI) to support dairy farming in Nyakach.
The event was attended by the County chief officer for Livestock, Madam Rosemary Raluoch, County director for livestock Mr. Charles Kakuku among other county officers.
The chief officer stated that the County government is committed to supporting farmers’ to improve the quality of dairy production, adding that the department has put in place a follow-up mechanism to support the farmers through extension services, monitoring and evaluation.
Mr. Akuku also affirmed that the cows are healthy and will be due for calving in the next 4 to 5 months
The team encouraged farmers to focus on the value addition of dairy products through the formation of cooperatives.
By Matilda Atieno
The Department of Agriculture received 20 wash tanks each carrying 500litres from One Acre Fund in a bid to promote hand washing which is one of the key basic hygiene measures during this time of the Covid -19 pandemic
While receiving the tanks, the Chief Officer Agriculture, Dr. Omanga thanked the One Acre Fund for their generous donations led by Mr. David Owino and Lavender Mukhanzi from the Government Liaison department.
He also commended them for the support they have continued to relay to the small holder farmers across the county through financial support to improve food security and economic empowerment.
Dr. Omanga reiterated that their services will still come handy even as the department is currently working on a post flood food security strategy, now that flood victims are gradually getting back to their homes.
On this regard, department is set to provide the people with fast maturing African leafy vegetables seeds for food and for sale.
One Acre Fund is an agricultural service provider with its branch in Kisumu for the past 8years.They currently work with 13, 420 registered small holder farmers across the county to improve livelihoods on food security.
They also provide farm inputs to farmers through loaning which is payable within one year. The inputs totals to Ksh. 134,926,092 these include maize seeds, fertilizers for planting and top dressing, sorghum, pulses, onions, assortment of vegetables and poultry.
County Department of Agriculture has put in place strategies to raise productivity in food production that would not only ensure food security, but also potentially alleviate poverty among households amid the floods and corona-virus pandemic.
As a result of the impact of floods, farming has been concentrated on the hilly areas such as Maseno, Nyahera and parts of Muhoroni where 830 bags each 2kgs of maize seeds, 1,500 bags of top dressing fertilizer and fall army worm pesticides have been distributed to farmers to boost production.
222 dairy goats were recently distributed to farmers across the 7 sub counties in Kisumu to restore livelihoods and combat critical levels of food insecurity and malnutrition in the wake of floods and Covid -19 pandemic.
In promoting horticulture, South East Nyakach has received 6,400 mango seedlings, 6,600 avocado seedlings and a variety of indigenous vegetables.
Further, 1,500 coffee seedlings of Batiang and Robusta varieties have also been distributed in South East Nyakach, another batch of 2,600 coffee seedlings of Arabica variety has been distributed in Kajulu, Seme and Kisum west courtesy of Agriculture Food Authority ( AFA).
So far 12 tons of conventional cotton, 380kgs of non- Bt hybrid and 140 kgs of Bt hybrid seeds have been distributed to the cooperatives within the county awaiting planting come January in the 1,000 acres slotted for cotton production.
Currently, about 560 bags of rice seeds each weighing 3kgs and fertilizers have been purchased and kept in stores awaiting distribution to the farmers come the month of June to revive rice farming in the flood affected areas after it subsides.
The aim is to build resilience of farmers against the effects of climate change and increase productivity in the targeted small holder farming envisaging transitioning of the County from a net importer to food sufficiency for local consumption and the export market.
This is expected to be achieved by expanding the knowledge and skills of farmers to transform agriculture from a low income, low efficiency and low technology sector to a vibrant modern sector supporting value addition through scientific and technological innovation, improved extension services and credit provision to transform agriculture from the old man’s job to a career of choice.