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Sunday, 30 November 2014

Ng’arua Maarifa plays host to World Bank consultant

By Bob Aston
 The Ng’arua Maarifa Centre which is located in Sipili area of Laikipia West, on November 27, 2014 played host to Mr. David Campbell, a World Bank Consultant and also the Managing Director of Media for Communication and Development (Mediae) and Mr. Richard Githaiga, Head of extension management at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock.
Mr. Campbell and Mr. Githaiga with some of the Maarifa beneficiaries

 The two had heard about Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) and Ng’arua Maarifa Centre and were interested in seeing and confirming for themselves what they had been told. They met ALIN official as well as some few beneficiaries of the Centre and an extension officer with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.

They were particularly interested in learning how the Maarifa has assisted farmers in accessing knowledge and whether the knowledge has helped to improve their livelihood.
They were informed that the Maarifa Centre serves an average of 26,000 people per year through provision of various services that include; Library services, internet access, advisory services, online market information, SOKO+, Farm Records Management Information System (FARMIS), E-Government services, ICT Training, Citizen Journalism Training, Multimedia content, publications like Joto Africa and Baobab and knowledge sharing on Natural Resources Management (NRM) and Sustainable Land Management (SLM).
During the discussions the beneficiaries learned that Mediae of which Mr. Campbell is the managing Director has been producing Shamba Shape Up which is usually being aired on Citizen TV on Saturday and Sunday between 1:30 pm to 2:00 pm.
Shamba Shape Up show aims to give both farmer and audience the tools they need to improve productivity and income on their farms. The TV show tackles issues surrounding livestock, poultry, crops and soil fertility.
Mr. Campbell with one of the Maarifa beneficiaries
Some of the Maarifa beneficiaries have been watching the program and they have even been getting Shamba Shape Up publications.
Mr. Githaiga noted the importance of ICT in service delivery. He said that the Ministry through e-extension services equipped some extension officers with laptop computers, modem and smart phones in order to reach more farmers with extension services.
He said that the high costs involved in visiting farmers encouraged them to establish an e-extension. He noted that they have developed an e-extension program that incorporates the web 2.0 concept. 

He noted that communicating with farmers through text messages is easier as it can reach a large number of farmers. He promised to link the Maarifa Centre with Access Agriculture so that farmers can be able to access agricultural DVDs at the centre.
“We are building the capacity of extension officers to be able to deliver services through ICT. We thought we could leverage on ICT to help in delivering of services,” said Mr. Githaiga.
He urged the Maarifa to make use of the National Farmer Information Service portal (NAFIS) in getting information about farming which can be useful to the community.
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