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Saturday, 26 April 2014

ASDSP and Meteorological services visits Ng’arua Maarifa Centre

By Bob Aston
Ng’arua Maarifa Centre received officials from the Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP) and Kenya Meteorological services on April 24, 2014. The visit was to learn more about the Maarifa Centre activities and Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) as well as the demonstration plots which are set to be started. 
During the visit, Sam Nzioka, Field Officer, Ng’arua Maarifa Centre took the ASDSP officials through various services offered by the Maarifa Centre.
Sam informed them that Sokopepe Ltd, has introduced Farm Record Management Information System – Kenya (FARMIS Kenya) and they are already profiling farmers in Laikipia County.
Margaret and David from ASDSP and Meteorological services
Sam said that poor record keeping has been a major challenge for farmers but this is now being addressed through FARMIS Kenya. Registered farmers will purchase a Farm Book at Kshs. 850 per year for better records keeping and management. The system will also generate interactive reports like ledger reports, profit and loss accounts and balance sheet.
Sam informed ASDSP that the Maarifa Centre would like to partner with them in a project funded by ACT Kenya that seeks to strengthen community resilience to impacts of climate change and stewardship of natural resources in Laikipia County.
“The project seeks to ensure that there is enhanced community resilience to adapt to climate change and improved livelihood,” said Sam.
Sam also mentioned some of the services provided by the Maarifa Centre like; ICT training, Citizen Journalism training, online market information, multimedia content, advisory services, library services, publications, internet access, E-government services and Tangaza Pesa money transfer.
On her part Margaret Mwangi, Laikipia County Metrological services Director, appreciated the work done by the Maarifa Centre saying that she had learnt a lot during the visit.
Margaret informed the Maarifa Centre officials that they have inducted Trainer of Trainers (TOT) who are now sensitizing farmers on preparedness for the long rain season in reference to weather forecasting and agriculture.
Public accessing internet at the Maarifa Centre
This she said will empower farmers to understand about effects of climate change and develop suitable adaptation action plans as they prepare for unexpected climatic changes during the planting seasons.
“When you see anything that is not accurate it is not that we are not doing our work but rather because of the various challenges that we encounter,” said Margaret.
She said that they have set up more than 100 stations in Laikipia County with each having network coverage of 5 km or less depending with topography. They have also set up around 40 automatic stations.
“As long as information from meteorological stations have not conformed with the international standards then the information will not be accurate,” said Margaret.
David Wanjohi from ASDSP said that they are promoting three agricultural value chains in Laikipia County with their core focus being to facilitate demand-driven, stakeholder-led and
coordinated efforts by relevant public and private sector actors.
The overall goal of ASDSP is to transform Kenyan’s Agricultural sector into an innovative, commercially-oriented, competitive and modern industry that contributes to poverty eradication, improved food security and equity in rural and urban Kenya.
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