AGRA partners with Kiambu County
Kiambu County Government in Kenya has partnered with Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to improve maize production in the county. The programme which has run from 2018 focused on providing extension services to the farmers to increase productivity.
AGRA helped the county government extension staff select Village-Based Advisors (VBA), to teach farmers about improved early-maturing maize varieties and good agronomic practice. They also arranged for partner seed and fertilizer companies to provide inputs for demonstrations and deliver products to agro-dealers for sale to farmers.
Between February 2018 and December 2019, 115 self-employed VBAs in three sub-counties (Kikuyu, Githunguri and Gatundu South) were selected and trained on improved maize varieties, seed spacing, fertilizer application and Fall Armyworm control. During the year, VBAs conducted 138 Mother demonstrations in partnership with nine seed companies and one fertilizer company. They also distributed 28,000 small packs of seed for Baby demonstrations. In these counties, about 16,000 farmers were trained in good agronomic practice and experimented with early-maturing maize varieties. While a formal impact assessment has yet to be carried out, AGRA says informal surveys indicate that more than 10,000 farmers have increased their maize crop productivity by up to 100%.
In a recent visit to Ikinu, Githunguri in Kiambu County, AGRA President Agnes Kalibata said that the programme has started bearing fruits. “Farmers are telling us that with an investment of Kshs. 1,000 they are getting about Kshs. 10,000 in an area of about 20m x 20 m. This is encouraging and this is a result of good extension services, therefore, let us support extension”, said Kalibata.
The AGRA President said they have started with Kiambu County but this is something they can do across the board. “We can reach as many interested counties. We will work with the Ministry of Agriculture to see that we help the counties that are interested to move their food security forward and to move their poverty reduction forward,” said the President. She added that after farmers learnt of the best varieties to plant, they went ahead and bought them which is encouraging.
Kiambu Governor Dr James Nyoro says the VBA model is working well because the VBAs are farmers who live with the farmers they are training hence there is a lot of understanding between the two parties. He says they are going to scale up the model as a county since it has proved to be effective. “With the long rains coming, we are going to distribute seeds at subsidized prices to our farmers using this method,” he adds.