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
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