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Friday, 16 May 2014

SNV holds a business opportunity meeting between HGSF schools

By Bob Aston
The Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) held a business opportunity meeting between Home Grown School Meal Programme (HGSMP) schools in Rumuruti zone and farmer groups at Rumuruti Catholic Centre on May 14, 2014. The match making meeting which was also attended by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), provided an opportunity for the farmer groups to see how they can do business with the schools.
Farmer groups present during the meeting included Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society, Ng’arua cereals and produce SHG, Sipili cereal Bank and Ndurumo Cereal bank.
Leah addressing participants
Speaking during the event, Leah Njeri, a governance advisor on PG-HGSF with SNV urged schools benefiting from the programme to give everyone a fair chance when they advertise for cereals.
Leah said that farmers operating within the locality where the schools are should be given first priority. She said this will empower the farmers thus leading to increase in production.
“The intention of this meeting is for you to meet farmer groups and see if you can do business with them,” said Leah.
HGSMP started in the county with an initial phase from 1980 to 1985 whose beneficiary level was 240,000 school children. By 2007, the beneficiary levels had increased to over 1.2 million children in 3,847 primary schools.  The increase was greatly influenced by the introduction of Free Primary Education by the Government in January 2003 and availability of food in targeted schools.
At the inception of the Programme in 2009, the Government estimated Ksh. 7 per child per day to cover the cost of providing a mid-day meal. The schools are currently receiving Ksh.10 per child per day. The targeted primary schools are allocated funds by the Government of Kenya to cover the cost of food for a specified period based on the number of school children in these schools.
The co-operative and the three cereal banks took the opportunity to impress upon the schools on why they should do business together with each stating that they have met the selection criteria for small scale local farmer groups.
They urged the school meals programme committees to give preference to the local small scale farmers as they have all met the procurement criteria outlined in the HGSMP guidelines.
“We are able to supply food to the schools. We are looking forward to being your business partners. Please give us a chance as I believe that we have met the selection criteria,” said Waweru Kanja, Chairman Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society.
Justus Nzuki from Kilimo Biashara addressing participants
HGSMP is currently being done in 22 counties in Kenya. The programme is implemented in semi-arid areas of the country that are vulnerable to food insecurity.
The objectives of the HGSM Programme are: Provide a comprehensive source of information on implementation of Home Grown School Meals Programme and provide school management programme managers with technical content and handout materials that can be used for implementation and planning of HGSMP.
“The farmer groups are investors. They are investing on behalf of the farmers. This will enable the farmers to get something to uplift their livelihood,” said Leah.
Home Grown School Meals Programme (HGSMP) aims at:  Providing equal opportunities of access to free education to Kenyan school going children from poverty stricken backgrounds, reducing short term hunger , improving the children’s’ health and nutrition status, improving the children’s’ attention span and cognitive ability, minimizing the dropout and improving academic performance.
In addition to the benefits of a regular School Meals Programme, the HGSM programme also aims at: Linking school feeding to local agricultural production, increasing Small-Scale Farmers’ (SSF) access to the school feeding market, encouraging improved production practices among small-scale farmers and increasing direct purchases from small holders.
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