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Saturday, 31 May 2014

SNV holds a business opportunity meeting between HGSF schools from Muhotetu

By Bob Aston
The Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) held a business opportunity meeting between sixteen (16) Home Grown School Meal Programme (HGSMP) schools in Muhotetu zone and farmer groups at Gatundia Secondary School on May 30, 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.
Nzuki addressing participants
Speaking during the meeting Augustus Nzuki from SNV said that schools should give farmers and parents the first priority when giving out tenders for HGSMP. He said this will help uplift the livelihood of the farmers who in most of the case are also parents.
 “Tendering process should be transparent and all the applicants should be given an equal opportunity,” said Nzuki.
Nzuki said that they normally try to help farmers aggregate their produce in order to benefit from HGSMP. He urged the school meal programme committees to always ensure that food is verified before being stored. This he said will help to determine the quantity and the quality of maize and beans.
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 safety and hygiene of the food should be of paramount importance. Storage room should be clean and well organized,’ said Nzuki.
Nzuki encouraged the schools to use a systematic method of stacking to prevent food losses and damage.
Cecilia Gacheri, officer in charge of school Feeding Program, Laikipia West said that the program was started in Muhotetu zone in 2013.
Cecilia took participants through the objectives of the HGSM Programme which are: To 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.
Cecilia addressing participants
She warned school heads and chairperson to ensure that they do not store food in their houses. She said HGSMP file should always be available in the school. Cecilia urged the school meal program committees to strictly adhere to the laid down regulations in order for their students to continue benefiting from the project.
“Monitor use of the food every day. Food should be measured according to number of students present,” said Cecilia.
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.
Cecilia said that schools should document how the funds are used and all documentation filed in the HGSMP file.
“Attendance form should be done every day. This will make it easier to take stock of how the funds have been used after every month,” said Cecilia.
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 the required amount of grains to the schools. We hope we will be given an opportunity to supply food to your schools as we have met the selection criteria,” said Waweru Kanja, Chairman Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society.
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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