BNF technology clearinghouse event in Kenya

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WeRATE held a Clearinghouse planning meeting from 5 to 7 September attended by 30 participants drawn from 26 dues paying members, mostly farmer associations (see photo). During the meeting, BNF technologies were discussed and distributed to members, along with the field protocols to test them. These technologies include BioFix and NoduMax inoculants, rust-resistant soyabean (e.g. SC Squire), specialized fertilizer blends with and without starter N and use of Dual Gold pre-emergent fertilizer (Picture 1). During the upcoming 2016 short rains growing season, WeRATE will establish 30 on-farm BNF technology tests and host field days around them. As in the past, MEA Fertilizer Ltd. provided specially packaged inputs that conform to our standard 100 m2 plot size. Furthermore the University of Nairobi MIRCEN is testing the quality of BioFix inoculants intended for sale this season. Data report forms from the recently concluded long rains growing season 2016 were collected and are currently being compiled into a database and inspected.

Picture 1. Participants at the Clearinghouse event (left) and this season’s BNF technology package (right)

WeRATE members will continue to bulk soyabean and many (12) now operate One Stop Shops. The updated M&E forms were presented to the group so that they can be better completed during the next growing season. An updated presentation on marketing and legume processing was also provided. WeRATE members have sold 443 tons of soyabeans to seven buyers over the past several months, and not all of the long rains soyabean crop has been cleaned and bagged. Finally, 6,500 branded grain and seed sacks were distributed to members to assist in further marketing and seed production efforts. Since that meeting, the rains have started in a timely manner and the technology field packages are being installed.

Three recent reports and extension publications were released to members including the WeRATE “glossy” and the Annapolis Wonder Enterprises (AWE) marketing report. In addition, AWE will continue to offer training in household preparation of “legume breadbasket” products at the cottage industry scale. One concern is that WeRATE will soon be supported only by N2Africa as its other projects have ended or end this year (e.g. Humidtropics). Officers agreed to explore additional funding mechanisms and one proposal is in an advanced stage of preparation.

Paul L. Woomer, Welissa Mulei and Macdonald Wasonga