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Sunday, 14 December 2014

Agriculture officer strives to ensure all households are food secured

By Bob Aston
The rapid growth and urbanization of Kenya’s population has resulted in a changing poverty and food security environment in most parts of the Country. The rise in population has also made it hard for Kenya to be food secured. Ensuring that communities living in Ol-Moran Ward, Laikipia West are food secured has been a personal challenge and motivation for Mrs. Elcy Kigano, an Agribusiness officer with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in Ol-Moran Ward.
When she completed high school she joined Bukura Agricultural College and completed her studies in the year 1988. She then joined the Ministry of Agriculture. During this period she was particularly interested in home economics. In 2009, Ol-Moran ward experienced the worst kind of drought. Food was scarce and many people had neglected planting traditional crops at the time.
Mrs.Kigano training farmers on best agricultural practices
 The effect of the drought and climate change made her realize that measures had to be put in place in ensuring people do not lack food during dry weather. This led her to dedicate most of her time in training farmers on best agricultural practices as well as post harvest handling with a view to improving their livelihood and food security.
She started training communities on importance of orphan crops and why they needed to plant crops like cassava to ensure that they have food even during drought period. This led her to start working with five (5) groups dealing with different crops.
She started encouraging women and men to fill proposals on grants. One of the groups called Laikipia Centre for Knowledge and Information (LACKIN) managed to receive Njaa Marufuku funding. She had to travel as far as Kenya Agriculture Research Institute (KARI) Embu to collect 8,000 improved cassava cuttings. The group managed to get more than Ksh 50,000 after sales.
She has been working hard in ensuring the Country attains the millennium development goal one of eradicating hunger and poverty.
This year again another group that she is working with received Njaa Marufu Kenya grant. She has already collected five (5) different cassava cuttings varieties for them. This has ensured that farmers from Ol-Moran ward will no longer travel to KARI Embu to collect cassava cuttings.
“ Youths always tend to ignore extension services offered by the Ministry while some people consider traditional crops like cassava as food intended for vulnerable people in the community thus it is hard convincing them to plant cassava,” said Mrs. Kigano.
Mrs.Kigano training farmers on post harvest grain handling
Helping farmers and ensuring women improve their livelihood made her realize the importance of ensuring families work as business partners instead of each person working separately. This made her to prioritize training on family budgeting. She has been teaching families on importance of family budgeting as this is a big problem in most families. She noted that most families do not budget hence not pulling their resources together.
She noted that training families on family budgeting has ensured women are also included in decision making as they now play an active role in managing the family business.
“This work has not been easy. I have faced a lot of challenges like convincing families on importance of family budgeting and dealing with a lot of families with low income. Such challenges have always been overcome by the love from my family. They are always very supportive of my initiatives,” said Mrs. Kigano.
She has also been at the forefront of ensuring farmers plant fruits. She has been leading in planting fruits by example as I have planted a lot of fruits in my farms. I have been helping in distributing fruit seedlings to many farmers and also training them on agronomical practices.
Her parting shot is that women should never give up while pursuing their dreams. She believes that the future is bright particularly for women.

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