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Monday, 14 April 2014

SNV and ALIN hold joint meeting for co-operatives and cereal banks

By Sam Nzioka and Bob Aston
Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) and Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) held a joint meeting on April 10, 2014 in Sipili to create a forum where cooperatives and cereal banks can share their experiences and map out areas where they can work together for better development.
David from SNV addressing participants
Other objectives for the meeting were; To have the cooperatives and cereal banks understand well homegrown school feeding program, Co-operatives and cereal banks to map out schools to be approached for supply contracts for maize, to develop strategies for engaging with schools for supply contracts and developing an action plan.
Other partners who attended the meeting included; Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC), Kilimo Biashara Promoters, Farming Systems, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and the Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development.
Groups within Laikipia West sub county working on grains that were present included; Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society, Ng’arua cereals and produce SHG, Sipili cereal Bank, Ol-moran Cereal bank, Ndurumo Cereal bank and Ngarua millers.
During the meeting, Leah Njeri, a governance advisor on PG-HGSF with SNV stressed on the importance of developing a business model for co-operatives. She said the model should include bulking and selling grain, warehouse storage, input supply and offering transport to members.
“For every business challenge, there must be a business solution.  All stakeholders need to think business,” said Leah.

Noah Lusaka, project Manager-ALIN informed the stakeholders that Sokopepe Ltd, a social enterprise under license from Fit Uganda, launched Farm Record Management Information System – Kenya (FARMIS Kenya) in Meru County early this month.

Participants contributing during the meeting
Noah said that FARMIS will soon be launched in Kirinyaga, Embu, Bungoma as well as Laikipia County. He informed participants that after the Easter holiday they will be invited for a FARMIS workshop where they will be trained on how it works and how they will roll it out in Laikipia County.
Anthony Khisa from Farming system said that they promote indigenous crops like cassava, cow peas, sweet potatoes, millet, and sorghum. Khisa said that the pilot project was done in Kinamba, olmoran and Salama.
 Farming systems also encourages farmers to form marketing federations so they can bulk and sell their produce and access cheap farm inputs. For a group to qualify, it should have a membership of between 15 and 30 people and are registered.
 “Our departments are crops, environment and natural resource development, livestock and animal welfare, micro-enterprise development and socio-economics,” said Khisa.
James Kamau, an extension officer with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries advised farmers on the importance of soil analysis as it will help them know the state of their soil and get advised on best fertilizers and crop varieties to plant.
“Farmers need to diversify their farming and not depend on one crop. They need to plant drought resistant crops so as to fight the changing and unpredictable weather conditions,” said Kamau.
Gachara addressing participants
Kamau urged farmers to embrace good agricultural practices for them to enjoy good returns.
Gachara Gikungu of Kilimo Biashara Promoters urged farmers to ensure they observe principles of business if they want to succeed. Gachara said that cooperatives and cereal banks should be business entities that work with other businesses and also talk business with them.
 “Job seekers never get jobs. Farmers need to change their attitude and create jobs for themselves. Dependence syndrome is forcing many farmers to live below the poverty line,” said Gachara.
David Makongo, a Business Development Advisor with SNV took participants through Home Grown School Feeding program (HGSFP).
David said that SNV is trying to ensure that farmers benefit through the program by supplying farm produce to schools. He said that they aim to ensure that 10,000 new farmers are added to the program.
The cereal banks and cooperatives agreed to focus on Laikipia west and Laikipia North regions which have 70 schools in the HGSFP. SNV is now set to introduce them to the schools.
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