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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Farmers share experiences during Laikipia County agribusiness trade fairs

By Bob Aston
The Kenya Livestock Producers Association in collaboration with the Laikipia County Government held a two day agribusiness trade fairs on March 27-28, 2015 at Nyahururu stadium, Laikipia County. The trade fairs enabled many farmers across Laikipia County and beyond to share experiences as well as network.
The County government of Laikipia provided transport for some farmers across Laikipia County to attend the trade fairs. On their part the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) organized for eight (8) members of Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society to exhibit their produce during the trade fairs.
An agriculture officer training farmers about conservation agriculture

Most farmers from Ol-Moran ward narrated their experiences during the trade fairs. They were able to interact and learn from more than 50 different exhibitors who showcased Dairy Products, E-dairy, rabbits, quails, bee Keeping, agro-chemicals and seeds, financial services products, Insurance Services, agricultural products, domestic tourism, mcommerce, biogas and bio-fuels demonstration, artificial insemination (AI), greenhouse farming and farm machinery and equipments.

Mr. Peter Mwangi noted that he managed to learn a lot about Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND) which affected his agricultural activities in 2014. He said that he spent most of the time at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Development exhibition stand inquiring from the officers about the disease and what he can do to ensure that 2015 does not turn up like 2014.
“The Ministry officials were very cooperative. I was given the entire process of how the disease can spread and the most effective ways of mitigating against the disease. I am now fully equipped to deal with MLND,” said Mwangi.
He said that he bought an incubator in 2014 but he has never benefited from it due to frequent power outages and other mechanical issues. This year he decided to visit all the stands that were dealing with poultry farming and especially the ones that were selling incubators.
Farmers being shown a new innovation
“I have been capacity built on how incubators work and what might be making my eggs not to hatch. I will now try and see if the new knowledge that I have gained will be of benefit to me,” said Mr. Mwangi.
On her part, Mrs. Veronica Kemunto who represented Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society during the exhibition noted that exhibiting had been an eye opener for them. She said that it served as a learning experience and as a cooperative they are now better informed and are aware about what farmers expect from them.
“Many farmers learned what we have been doing and we also learned from them. We have really been challenged and we expect to improve in our service delivery. We also managed to network with other likeminded organizations. The trade fairs really exposed us,” said Mrs. Kemunto.
Mr. Samuel Nyaga was particularly interested in learning about organic farming. He has been an organic farmer for quite some time and he was eager to enrich his knowledge in the subject so that he can improve his farming activities.
He noted that he left the agribusiness trade fairs as a happy man as he was able to network and meet other farmers who also share a passion in organic farming.
Farmers being trained on dairy farming
“This has been something that I am passionate about and I always attend such events to ensure that I am updated and also so that I can learn from others what they are doing. I am glad that I attended the trade fairs as I managed to learn a lot,” said Mr. Nyaga.
Similarly, Mrs. Margaret Mwangi recounted how she started dairy farming and how she used to experience low yields. She used to get as little as one litre of milk per cow. Last year she attended the event and sought out other dairy farmers and exhibitors. After carefully listening to what the exhibitors had told her she decided to apply what she had learned. Soon she started getting more than 10 litres of milk per dairy cow.
This year she was back at the agribusiness trade fairs. She again sought out different exhibitors and dairy farmers.
“I want to increase my milk production. I expect that the knowledge that I have gained this year will enable me to get more than 20 litres per cow. The trade fairs have been a blessing for us farmers. The knowledge that I have been acquiring have really empowered me,” she said.
The objectives of the trade fair included; to afford the regions farmers, service providers and industry suppliers a unique opportunity to showcase their products for benchmarking and trade, expose agricultural sector stakeholders (practitioners and suppliers) to new technologies and ideas for better efficiencies and quality, provide a platform for short seminars and demonstrations to small scale and large scale players in the sector, to showcase outstanding breeds for different livestock and to encourage farmers to invest in farming as a business.
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