Farmers’ field days held in Kenya
The ICRISAT-HOPE project seeks to help end food insecurity and poverty through research-for-development on sorghum and millets, enhancing technology utilization, linking farmers with markets, and strengthening the capacity of national and civil society partners in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In Kenya, farmers’ field days were simultaneously held to increase the productivity of sorghum and millets among smallholder farmers.
At the KARI Alupe station, ICRISAT-HOPE along with partners in Kenya organized a national field day on 21 July, attended by 231 participants composed of researchers from ICRISAT-Nairobi, NARO-Uganda, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and Egerton University; officials of the Ministry of Agriculture; processors; agro-dealers; NGO officials; and farmer representatives from all HOPE project areas in Kenya.
During the field day, farmers had the opportunity to interact with researchers and share their experiences with other farmers from across ICRISAT-HOPE project areas in Kenya. A participatory variety selection (PVS) was held, with the improved variety U-15 unanimously selected by farmers based on preferred traits. The farmers were also taken through the whole finger millet value chain through a demonstration of post-harvest handling and processing and preparation and display of value-added products.
In Asinge, Amukura, Teso, southern Kenya, ICRISAT in partnership with the KARI District Agricultural Office (DAO) and local farmers’ groups also held a field day on 24 July attended by 58 farmers and 31 secondary school students. Also in attendance were Rhoda Nungo and Gilder Aringo from KARI-Kakamega, Samson Simiyu from DAO, and Daniel Otwani, Patrick Audi and Henry Ojulong from ICRISAT-ESA.
PVS results showed that U-15, an improved early maturing and blast tolerant variety, was the most preferred finger millet by both women and men farmers. Microdosing was highly rated by farmers as they said it enhanced finger millet yield by almost 100%. The secondary school students, meanwhile, showed interest in the dietary value of finger millet.
During the discussions, 27-year-old Pamela Ekodi shared that she bought 0.5 kg small-seed pack of U-15 for Kshs 25 (US$0.3) from an agro-vet in Asinge market, planted it to 0.25 acre of land, from which she harvested 250 kg. From the harvest, she reserved 50 kg of grain for household consumption and seed, and sold 200 kg at Ksh80 (US$1) per kg giving her an estimated total gross income of Ksh16,000 (US$200). She plans to use 2 kg of her own saved seed of U-15 to plant 1 acre during the short rains (SRs) season which starts in September 2012.
The challenges facing the farmers include non-availability of seed, lack of credit to purchase fertilizers, lack of animal-drawn equipment for row planting, poor postharvest handling techniques, poor marketing infrastructure, and limited uses for finger millet at the household level.
In its last year of implementation, ICRISAT-HOPE will further elevate its impact by: 1) providing more small-seed packs of U-15 and Okhale varieties through agro-vets; 2) conducting training on postharvest handling and value addition; and 3) organizing farmer-trader market and credit linkage fora.