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Thursday, 25 June 2015

Smallholder farmers seek to benefit from school feeding programme

By Bob Aston
The Home Grown School Meal Programme has always aimed at increasing small-scale farmer’s access to the school feeding market by encouraging improved production practices among small-scale farmers and increasing direct purchases from small holders. Despite this many smallholders’ farmers have been unable to benefit from the programme.
It is this in mind that the SNV-Netherlands Development Organisation organized for a business opportunity meeting between twenty two (22) Home Grown School Meal Programme (HGSMP) schools in Ol-Moran Ward and Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society at Sipili Catholic Church Hall in Laikipia West Sub County on June 24, 2015.
The meeting which was also attended by officer in charge of School feeding programme in Laikipia West, Kilimo Biashara Profilers, Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), Ol-Moran and Sipili Area Education Officers (AEO), provided an opportunity for the farmer group to present their case on why they should be considered when tenders for HGSMP are being given by schools.
Cecilia Gacheri addressing the participants

Speaking during the meeting, Cecilia Gacheri, officer in charge of school Feeding Program in Laikipia West urged schools to give local farmers the first priority when giving out tenders for HGSMP as this will uplift the livelihood of the farmers who in most cases are also the parents.
She took participants through the HGSMP procurement procedures, responsibilities and roles of head teachers, selection of suppliers, delivery of food, reporting and monitoring and evaluation.
She 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. Schools should also document how the funds are used and all documentation filed in the HGSMP file.
“Whenever funds are disbursed you should advertise for tenders. The tendering process should be transparent and all the applicants should be given an equal opportunity,” said Gatheri.
Aims of HGSMP include: 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 school dropout; and improving academic performance.
The participants posing for a photo
Francis Kanja, Chairman Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society urged schools to consider the cooperative as they have met the selection criteria for small scale local farmer groups. He noted that the cooperative is able to supply cereals to schools throughout the year.
He said that the cooperative will soon open centers in Ol-Moran and Muhotetu and this will make delivering cereals to schools to be easier. He said that when schools award tenders to local farmers they will be enhancing local agricultural production thus increasing accessibility to markets by local small scale farmers leading to improved livelihood.
“Most of our members are drawn from Sipili and Ol-Moran. Promoting the cooperative will mean that you are promoting small-scale farmers who are members of the cooperative and who are also parents in your schools,” said Kanja.
At the inception of the Programme in 2009, the Government estimated Kshs. 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.
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