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Thursday, 10 March 2016

Learning the intricacies of fruit farming and agribusiness

By Samuel Nyaga
The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Ex-Participants Alumni of Kenya (JEPAK) in collaboration with Laikipia County Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries held an Agribusiness training at Dimcom Eden Villa Estate in Sipili, Laikipia West Sub County on March 5, 2016.
Seventy farmers drawn from Sipili, Ol-Moran, Muhotetu, Ndurumo, Kinamba, Wangwachi, and Gituamba attended the training. The training provided farmers with an opportunity to explore the 7.5-acre farm and learn how they can incorporate different enterprises in their farms.
Mr. Charles Mureithi training farmers on pineapple production
The farmers learned about different fruits that included loquats, pineapples, avocados, pawpaws, lemons, white sapote, cherimoya, tangerine, pomegranate, watermelons, passion fruits, tree tomatoes, bananas, apples, oranges, and grapes.
Mr. Charles Mureithi, Dimcom Eden Villa Estate owner said that the Agribusiness training aimed at changing the perception of smallholder farmers and youths on the importance of agriculture.
He noted that Dimcom Eden Villa Estate is among the few farms in Africa involved in Green Tourism. Apart from frequent tourists at the farm, farmers, as well as primary and secondary school students have been learning about land preparation, fruit grafting, nursery management, harvesting, apiculture, environmental conservation, water harvesting, among others.
“Those who see opportunity in farming are able to make a lot of money. We should encourage youths to embrace agriculture instead of travelling to towns to seek for employment,” said Mr. Mureithi.
He informed farmers that agri-tourism enables tourists and community members to visit the farm, learn what they are doing, and there after possibly implement the information gained. Similarly, Green tourism involves setting up picnic sites in a farm for tourists to enjoy modern farming methods, interact with nature, and eat fresh fruits.
He said that his journey started with a course on Implementation and Promotion of Agribusiness in Tokyo in 2011. The Course is under JICA Programme One Village, One Product (OVOP).
He urged farmers to adopt appropriate technologies and skills for increased production and to mitigate against the effects of climate change.
He emphasized on the importance of value addition in agribusiness as a way that can help farmers increase their income. He trained farmers on research, quality and quantity, record keeping, value addition and innovation.
He informed the farmers about ‘sixth industry’ dimension of agriculture practiced in Japan where farmers not only produce agricultural commodities but also process and market them thus raising their value.
“God’s favorite person is a farmer as we pray every time. We are life givers, we are generous, we bring harmony, and we enhance friendship amongst community members,” said Mr. Mureithi.
The farmers also learned about different JICA programs like SHEP, Rice-Based and Market-Oriented Agriculture Promotion Project (RIceMAPP), and Project on Enhancing Gender Responsive Extension Services in Kenya (PEGRES).

JEPAK is an association, which draws its membership from people who have visited and studied in Japan. In collaboration with JICA, they have been organizing various activities across the Country to give back to the community, on voluntary basis knowledge and skills learned in Japan. 
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