About 24 top farmers from different parts of the country were feted at the Laico Regency Hotel, Nairobi, last Friday during the fifth National Farmers Awards Competition gala.
The competition which takes place every year has eight categories and a top farmer and two runners up from every categories are awarded trophies, some cash and farm inputs from the event sponsors.
The categories include youth in agriculture, women in agriculture, physically challenged in agriculture, large scale agro-input, small scale agro input, large scale fully commercialised, and small scale fully commercialised.
But the scheme has introduced a ninth category targeting large commercial farms particularly those in the horticulture and flower growing sector.
The competition is a partnership between Elgon Kenya and the Ministry of Agriculture. Other sponsors include BASF East Africa, Aryster and Seeds of Gold.
The 2018 competition is currently open for application and farmers across the country are invited to apply. The registration forms are available in all the Ministry of Agriculture offices at the sub-county levels.
Simon deteriorated, who is the principal agriculture officer at State Department of Agriculture served as one of the judges. He said judging is a rigorous process which begins at the sub-county level.
Winners from that level are then grouped for judging at the county level then finally at the national level.
“We were keen on the use of technology, environmental conservation, marketing and farm records,” said Mr Muchigiri, adding that besides judging they also give recommendations to help farmers improve their farms.
He, however, said those who entered in 2017 are not eligible for the 2018 competition. “We want to give more time for improvement, and those re-entering after three years should demonstrate improvement. We also encourage inter-visits among farmers to enhance knowledge sharing.”
Blind farmer lights up gala night with win
Anthony King’ori calmly felt his way to the stage with his wife’s steadying hand guiding him.
The small-scale farmer who rears dairy cows and grows batian coffee and vegetables on a two-acre plot was the night’s top farmer under the ‘physically challenged’ category during the national farmer’s awards gala held at Laico Regency Hotel in Nairobi last week.
And he could have as well won any of the other categories since his farm ticked all the right boxes from the use of modern technology to best farm management, proper record keeping to use of best agronomic practices, according the judging panel.
King’ori who lost his sight was an agricultural extension officer in Nyeri for 25 years until 2011 when diabetes struck him at 49, forcing him to retire. Sadly, barely three months after the diagnosis, his condition deteroriated impairing his vision.
Now 54 and undeterred by his lack of vision, the father of three has revamped his farm to host other crops besides coffee.
“Initially, I concentrated on coffee only then I re-established the venture to include dairy cows and horticultural crops such as cabbages, kales and spinach. Through the new ventures I knew I could significantly enhance my income to support my family,” said the farmer.
Today, his farm in Othaya, Nyeri County, teems with towering banana plants, vegetables, tomatoes and coffee trees and mooing of cows.
He has embraced embryo transfer fertilisation to boost his local inferior breeds to produce pedigree calves and more milk. He has also dug over five pits which he uses for silage making and storing fodder for dry days.
“It means my cattle can go for up to five months even during the driest months when pasture is hard to find. I do not have to worry about the escalating costs of feeds or dwindling pasture which ultimately affects milk production,” he says.
King’ori said market for his milk and fresh farm produce is not a big headache since Othaya market which is just a few kilometres from his home offers ready customers with some traders also buy the produce at the farm.
He has employed two farm but he occasionally does farm activities such as pruning over grown coffee branches.
“I prune coffee trees and balance their branches. This is what I have been doing for decades so I do it with ease,” he said, adding that the recognition has not only given him more impetus but is inspiring many farmers in his home area.
Now in its fifth year, the national farmers’ competition recognises farmers under eight different categories.
FOOD SECURITY OF THE COUNTRY
Bimal Kantaria, CEO Elgon Kenya, the chief sponsor of the event, announced that they have introduced the ninth category in the 2018 contest targeting big flower farmers and horticultural farms.
Mr Kantaria further indicated that the contest whose judging panel is drawn from the Ministry of Agriculture is a great marketing platform for upcoming farmers besides being an opening for smallholder farmers to become better farmers.
Thomas Kipkorir, country manager BASF, they have introduced disposable safety kits for farmers to help in protecting the environment and health of farmers.
Ann Onyango, Agriculture Secretary at Agriculture ministry, said she was happy the award has grown to attract more sponsors.
“The idea started as a unique collaboration between Ministry of Agriculture and Elgon Kenya but now it has attracted many sponsors and it is increasingly becoming more competitive every year. We appreciate the role of the private sector in supplementing the work of the government,” she said, emphasising the inclusion of youth and women in agriculture.
Ms Onyango said both smallholder and large scale farmers are critical to the rural economies and food security of the country.
“Over 80 per cent of all the market export is from agriculture according to 2017 economic survey. This is why we will begin including large scale farmers in the competition,” said Ms Onyango.
Franklin Bett, a former Roads minister and chairman Agricultural Finance Corporations, indicated that AFC has 46 branches countrywide but are there plans to have branches in every county to enable more farmers to access loans to boost their farming activities.
He added that they are bench marking with other countries lending to farmers without collateral to make sure even farmers without securities can access loans.
“Our biggest challenge right now is the high rate of loan defaulting. Many farmers take huge loans from AFC and fail to repay then ask the government to give them a waiver,” said Mr Bett. “This time we only want to deal with serious farmers.”
Youth in Agriculture
- Nicholus Njogu - Muranga County
- Josphat Kipruto - Uasin Gishu County
- Mohamed Abdalla - Kilifi County
Small scale farm gearing to commercialisation
- Lucy park - Kiambu County
- Lulu Farm - Vihiga County
- Mary Wairiumu Oloo - Trans Nzoia County
Physically challenged in Agriculture
- Anthony Kingori - Nyeri County
- Francis Kimani - Laikipia County
- Allice Mukami -
Women in agriculture
- Gladys Migwi - Nyeri county
- Hellen Wairimu - Nyandarua
- Nelly Enterprises - Kilifi
Large scale agro–input dealer, over Sh5million investment
- Josemo distributors - Kisii County
- Tarakwa Agrochemicals - Nandi County
- Muhoroni Agrochemicals - Kisumu County
Small sacle agro-input dealers, less than Sh5million investment
- Beatrice Okello - Kisumu
- Green Track Invvestmnet - Laikipia
- Safina Farmers Ark - Vihiga
Small scale farms fully commercialized
- Peris Gitau - Nakuru
- Robert Githua - Nyeri
- Kenneth Anyoso Ongenge - Bungoma County
Large scale fully commercialized
- Fresh gold Kenya - Laikipia
- Eldonyo-Narok - Narok County
- Patbon Investment - Kilifi