N2Africa legacy in Kenya

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To what extent is there still a (knowledge) network around legumes and nitrogen fixation active in your country?

During Phase II of N2Africa, the Kenyan team focused upon commercial knowledge pathways with regard to the promotion of BNF technologies. This approach was built upon the availability of legume seeds, inoculants and specially blended fertilizer as input products offered by agro-dealers. Also, the approach of shifting from farmer field days, that requires project support, to customer open houses hosted by local agro-dealers proved successful in terms of more lasting impact. During the N2Africa project, responsibility for agricultural extension services shifted from the national Ministry of Agriculture to the individual counties, and this resulted in disorganization with regard to their effective participation in N2Africa and other projects. This trend is changing to the better as the farmer associations and agro-dealer networks are now receiving better extension support. Similarly, the processing of legumes has continued at both the cottage industry and agro-industrial scales through the production and distribution of soya milk and flavoured yogurt, instant beverages, blended flours and textured vegetable proteins. Customers recognize these a healthy food products and farmers and marketing mechanisms organized through N2Africa continue to supply raw soyabeans.

To what extent are private sector and/or NGOs still selling/ using / promoting “N2Africa technologies”? Can farmers readily access seeds, inoculants, legume-specific fertilizers?

Agro-dealers across the former N2Africa West Kenya Action Site continue to market improved soyabean seed (mostly cv Saga from AgriSeed-SeedCo), BIOFIX legume inoculants, and the Sympal fertilizer blend. Most seed, however, tends to be produced through community-based mechanisms relying upon improved varieties (mostly cv Saga) distributed to farmer groups by N2Africa. The distribution of soyabeans tolerant to Asian Rust disease by N2Africa has resulted in lasting impacts. BIOFIX inoculants continue to be produced at the factory built by MEA Fertilizers in Nakuru, and distributed to agro-dealers through product representatives. A new, larger 150 g package was added to the BIOFIX product line. Also a liquid formulation inoculant for soyabean is under development. Inoculant quality control testing continues by the nationally-sanctioned MIRCEN and its laboratory that the N2Africa project helped modernize. In many cases, inoculants continue to be displayed by agro-dealers in small glass-fronted refrigerators that were provided as incentives through N2Africa. Unfortunately the innovative product return policy for unsold BIOFIX crafted by N2Africa was discontinued, so local agro-dealers now assume full risk for marketing these products. MEA Fertilizers continues to produce the Sympal fertilizer blend in 40 ton batches at its blending facility in Nakuru. This blend has achieved an identity alongside other specialized blends for rice, tea, coffee and other commodities, but MEA as a relatively small Kenyan company is finding it increasingly difficult to compete with multi-national fertilizer importers. One positive spin off is that MEA readily agreed to produce and test market a new fertilizer blend intended for root crops designed by IITA scientists based upon the earlier success of the legume blend formulated by N2Africa.

Are there any interesting new developments taking place around legumes and nitrogen fixation?

Two new developments are worthy of note. 1) TechnoServe has initiated a working group devoted to improving soyabean marketing in Kenya. Their consultants visited several former N2Africa cooperators, including farmer groups, agro-dealers and small-scale processors, in the formulation of their recommendations. Two events were held in 2018 that brought together soyabean producers, input manufacturers, buyers and processors, and N2Africa technologies and partners featured prominently in these discussions. 2) In addition, Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), a Pan-African Program devoted to modernizing agriculture, has included legume inoculants and specialized fertilizer blends within its technology “toolkits”. These toolkits assume many forms and the Kenya Quick Win working group leads in translating proven TAAT technologies as combined product offerings through agro-dealer networks. This approach is now being applied as a means to modernize farmer’s traditional maize-bean intercropping systems. Paul Woomer, N2Africa Country Coordinator Kenya

Paul Woomer, Country Coordinator Kenya

Hi Paul, We really value the efforts of N2Africa in line with soybean production, processing and marketing. It’s through N2Africa that we are where we are today. we as an organization are working towards ensuring availability of right inputs for soybeans such as Biofix (inoculant), Sympal fertilizer through our well established links with MEA LTD, I would like to sincerely inform you that we are working on a system of ensuring commercial soybean production through contracting farmers and having a well organized marketing system. we have already put 30 acres under soybeans and we are expected to put at least 20 more acres. We are also working towards commercializing high iron beans with the farmers. As a result we have procured 50 kgs of high iron beans (Nyota) and we are organizing to establish a demo plots in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture. We have also registered Bungoma county youth agribusiness organization which is engaged in several agribusiness activities. To strengthen our small businesses we have planned to have monthly meetings where we can be able to review our progress and plan.

Regards, Paul Wabomba- Visionary Farmers Association Secretary.