Fifty-one extension officers from Kisumu County have today graduated from Farmer Business School after successfully completing 21 days training.
The event held at the Tom Mboya Labour College is an initiative by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as a deliberate effort to support county governments in the LREB region to help farmers and communities build resilience so that they are able to survive now and in the future.
While presiding over the event, the Deputy Country Representative – FAO, Mr. Hamisi Williams who was the Chief Guest said in December last year, FAO launched a 700bn programs to support county governments in the region in aquaculture, crop production, livestock production, capacity building of youth and women and to ensure that urban informal sectors are not left behind.
Mr. Hamisi further reiterated that during floods and the Covid 19 pandemic, FAO gave 50million to Kisumu and Migori Counties as a response strategy in bringing back farmers to production having suffered losses during the twin disasters.
He said the Farmer Business School is an initiative mooted to train TOTs who will train other people through the snow ball approach across the counties in order to build the resilience of farmers to survive should there be other disasters to come.
In Kisumu, the FAO has also supported the Urban Food Systems that supply the urban areas with food to ensure the people are well fed. Besides, they have also had the green cities initiative program within Kisumu, and Nairobi.
The CECM Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock, and Fisheries Mr. Gilchrist Okuom thanked FAO for their support in a number of programs.
The Farmer Business School training being one of them he was optimistic that the graduates would spread across all the sub counties as they propagate the idea of agribusiness set up along the aquaculture, poultry and green leafy vegetables value chains.
Mr. Okuom congratulated the graduands and challenged them to exploit their potentials, help in identifying the existing gaps in the value chains and fill the gaps. He called on them not only to be trainers but also doers of what they have learnt.
He also tasked them to help in changing the mind-set of the youths to make them agri-prenuers by enhancing their capacity in the value chains so that as they exit the youths can take over for continuity.
The FAO Sub head, Inclusive Value Chains Mr. Tito Arunga, congratulated the graduands for the journey they have taken. He said the training offers a huge potential of transformation agenda in agribusiness to the untapped areas that exist in the commercialization and food security.
He challenged them to exploit the existing market opportunities for their products and intensify to realize the fruits ae the fruits. Saying, “If we do it right, we will achieve the economic empowerment.
Mr. Kidera Samson on his part called on the TOTs to practice agriculture in order to help government in identifying gaps that will inform policy makers, and implementers strengthen what already exists.
He challenged those dealing in aquaculture that the production of fish in the lake is depleted hence they need to fill the gap saying currently the consumption of fish is at 4.5Kg per person per year and it is targeted to be 10kgs per person per year hence the deficit is great.
Concerning the outbreak of African army worms, he called on extension officers to provide excellent extension services to farmers to use best strategies in getting rid of the worms.
Mr. James Libako from Kenya Field School Coordinating Unit, who represented the Chairman Mr. Amadi told the graduands that the challenges of food security are real and that the country is banking on the trainees to use the Farmer Business Schools technology to alleviate the food security challenges.
With the skills acquired, he challenged them to run their own projects, adding that persistence, and perseverance are key in this particular journey.
He called on them to exploit financial opportunities such as the project enable Youth Kenya program that provide loans at low interest.
The Chief Officer for Agriculture and Irrigation Dr, Paul Omanga urged the graduands to apply the learnt skills in producing enough vegetable that can feed the county so that the county does not depend on imports.
He challenged them to produce, sell, and not practice subsistence farming. He further challenged them to explore the different nodes along the various value chain and specialize in a node that would earn them income
The Co- Chairperson for Food Liaison and Advisory Group (FLAG) Mr. Nixon Samba applauded the interest in having young people take a stand in feeding the people. He encouraged them that the journey has just started and more is expected from them moving forward in devising the best ways possible in feeding the people.
Also gracing the event were: A host of county officials from the department of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Officials from the national government, Development partners and CBOs dealing in the three value chains among other invited guests.
By: Emily Mikwa