The N2Africa outreach activities in west Kenya work through 26 grassroots collaborators. This team typically installs 50 BNF technology demonstrations, conducts 25 farmer field days, operates 16 grain legume market collection points and assists the Legume Agronomy team with its on-farm experiments twice a year, owing to our bimodal rains. Often, these cooperators are also asked to host visitors, sometimes at short notice, who are graciously accommodated and leave with a strong understanding of our field operations. At a recent planning meeting, farmer leaders commented that they seek wider understanding of program operations, and asked that a farmer delegation be organized on their behalf. The program then sponsored a fifteen-person farmer delegation between 7 and 12 October 2012 consisting of seven women and eight men and led by John Musyoka, N2Africa Training Officer. First the delegation traveled to the MEA Ltd. facility in Nakuru to observe the production of BIOFIX inoculants and blending of Sympal fertilizer (see photo).
|The farmer delegation visits the MEA factory in Nakuru where Sympal is blended (photo credit Moses Chamwada)|
Next they traveled to the Kenya Agricultural Research Center at Muguga that offers soil testing services. The planned visit to MIRCEN at the University of Nairobi where quality assessment of inoculants is performed was unfortunately cancelled because of a system-wide strike, but this left more time for the team to interact with staff from Promasidor at the Athi Export Processing Zone, the outreach team’s largest soybean buyer and manufacturer of the textured vegetable protein SOSSI™. The tour ended with a visit to CIAT offices in Nairobi where they were greeted by the new Program Coordinator, Jeroen Huising, and a roundtable discussion on program outreach activities ensued. Transportation was provided by ARDAP, a program partner that recently was awarded a bus from another project. Total cost for the five-day event was only $290 per delegate, a reasonable expense considering the greater understanding and good will generated. Dick Morgan Ongai, Chairman of the Mufagro Farmer Association and delegate from Vihiga County, aptly summarized the experience as "allowing for better sensitization of farmers concerning opportunities presented by BNF technologies, and also strengthened trust between farmers, input suppliers and buyers".
Paul L. Woomer, Kenya Country Mentor