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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

FARMIS Agricultural Production Report Launched

By Milcah Rajula and Anthony Mugo
The Inaugural Agricultural Production report for five sub-counties in Meru, produced using data from FARMIS was launched on April 14, 2015 at a colourful and promising event at the Meru Slopes Hotel. The launch was officiated by the County Director of Agriculture, Mrs. Dionisia M’Eruaki. Also present was the Land O’ Lakes FARMIS Portfolio Manager, Ms. Pauline Mugendi together with Sokopepe staff, led by Director, James Nguo as well as most production information agents (PIAs).
Mrs. M’Eruaki welcomed the work being undertaken by Sokopepe through the innovation known as Farm Records Management Information System (FARMIS). The initiative is aimed at supporting small scale farmers, who rarely keep records, to develop and nurture a culture of record keeping.
  
All smiles after the launch of the FARMIS Agricultural Production Report. They are from left (front row): Robert Kintu, Managing Director, FIT Uganda; Roseline Ngusa, Director Sokopepe; Pauline Mugendi, Agricultural Specialist, Land O’ Lakes/KFIE; Mrs. Dionisia M’Eruaki, Meru County Director of Agriculture; James Nguo, Director, Sokopepe and Anthony Mugo, Deployment Coordinator, Sokopepe. Back row (from left): Martin Murangiri, Training and Recruitment Manager Sokopepe and Susan Gitonga, KFIE Field Officer, Meru. Picture by Dennis Mutwiri.
Sokopepe is a social enterprise that has been set up by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), an NGO that works with farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Under the FARMIS initiative, each farmer invests in a Farm Book which captures information about the name of the farmer, the location of the farm (including GPS coordinates and picture), the size and key farming assets and tools owned by the farmer.  This enables the system to create a complete profile of the farmer.
During the growing season, the farmer records all aspects of the crop production cycle namely: land preparation; treatment and weed control; harvesting; post-harvest activities; and marketing. The amount of money spent at each stage is recorded. The same information is captured in digital form through a smart phone or computer and posted to a central secure server maintained by Sokopepe.
So far more than 6,000 farmers’ profiles have been captured. The piloting of the FARMIS innovation is being done in five selected sub-counties in Meru namely: Imenti Central; North Imenti; South Imenti; Buuri and Tigania West.
Following a systematic analysis of the data on farmer profiles, agriculture stakeholders such as the County and central government; agro-input providers; providers of agriculture credit and development partners can get an accurate perspective of the status of agriculture in the sub-counties targeted at any given time.
Robert Kintu, FIT Uganda Manager addressing participants
Funding support for the work has been provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Land O’ Lakes/Kenya Feed the Future Innovation Engine.
While talking about her experience in keeping farm records under the FARMIS initiative, Hilda Kinoti, a farmer in Imenti North, said: “Although I have always grown crops and raised livestock on my farm, I have never kept records on maize, potatoes or bananas. With FARMIS, I am now able to tell if growing these crops is profitable because the record enables me to compare the cost of inputs versus the money I get when I sell the harvest.”
With the completion of the pilot period for the Project, Sokopepe desires to expand the service in all sub-counties in Meru, while working closely with the County Government and other stakeholders.
“Having seen the value added by having accurate primary data directly from farmers, we believe such data can inform many aspects of planning that can empower small scale farmers to improve their incomes, livelihoods and food security,” said Anthony Mugo, the Sokopepe Deployment Coordinator.
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