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Friday, 10 February 2012

Farmers tipped on market access and linkages

By David Kiarie
As a way of doing away with brokers who have for a long time been exploiting farmers, Arid Lands Information Network, a non governmental organization working towards improving access to knowledge for arid land communities in East Africa, has embarked on a training geared to liberate farmers from middle men and link them with major markets.
The ongoing training has so far seen over 100 farmers from across Ng’arua area enlightened on availability of markets for their produce.
In several instances during the market access trainings, farmers were shocked to learn that they could earn higher proceeds from the various crops they produce.
Recently over 30 farmers who met at Sipili catholic hall were tipped on ensuring good quality for their produce right from the planting through to harvesting.
During the training, farmers shared the challenges they face in production and marketing of their produce including availability and cost of farm inputs, pests and disease control and access to sustainable markets.
A marketing consultant Mr. Fanuell Lubanga advised farmers to ensure good quality of their produce in order to have guarantee of fetching high proceeds and to win the confidence of the market.
“Quality and price have to go hand in hand and the only way you can get good value for your crops is by ensuring good quality,” Lubanga advised.
The farmers were also sensitized on post harvest practices including storage, packaging and transportation.
Lily Lang’at of Horticultural Crop Development Authority (HCDA), a state corporation established to facilitate development, promotion, coordination and regulation of the horticulture industry in Kenya, gave the farmers detailed information on horticulture production.
Lang’at told the farmers that her corporation had formed Producer Marketing Organizations (P.M.O) in various parts of the country, where farmers were being trained and enabled to access market for their produce.
The groups she said would help in encouraging increase in crop production and enhance bargaining power for their produce.
She said they encourage contract farming where buyers and farmers enter formal agreement before production of crops to ensure market guarantee especially for specialized or export crops.
Farmers in Ng’arua grow avocado, citrus, oranges, passion, pineapples, watermelons, tomatoes, pumpkins among other horticultural crops.
The farmers were also trained on marketing of passion fruits and maize whose supply is currently high in the area.
They appealed for extensive training on production and marketing including field visits for demonstrations to ensure good quality of their crops from the time of planting through to harvesting.
Also in attendance were an officer with a farm produce export company, East African Growers, Stanley Njuguna and agricultural officers Elcy Kigano, Noah Koinet and Samuel Muriithi.
ALIN’s Deputy Director Anthony Mugo advised farmers to take advantage of the information found at Ng’arua Maarifa Centre packaged in literature and audio visual materials in order to gain knowledge on the various issues including agriculture for the purpose of improving their livelihood.
“We have a lot of information on books, magazines, video and the internet at the maarifa centre but if you do not access it, it will be of no benefit to you,” Mugo said.
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