- Taking advantage of lack of data on farmers, the middlemen used to buy the subsidized fertilizer from Agencies and sell to farmers at market prices.
- Well-connected brokers and middlemen often took advantage of all attempts by Government to reach farmers, snatched the inputs and sold the same to farmers.
During the recent public set service award ceremony at the KICC, President William Ruto singled out the farmers' registration as one of the most remarkable uses of public service for the public good.
He commended the team working under the supervision of his Deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, through the Ministry of Interior for capturing details of 5 million farmers in less than three weeks.
The overall impact of the registration has been the weeding out of unscrupulous middlemen who had been fleecing farmers by taking advantage of any State intervention in the Agricultural sector.
Taking advantage of the lack of data on farmers, the middlemen used to buy subsidised fertiliser from agencies and sell it to farmers at market prices.
This use of the vast network of the provincial administration to impact the public service delivery marks a fresh start on the transformation of the once dreaded service.
Historical use of the DCs, DOs and Chiefs to implement policies that hurt the Kenyans on the ground had been the identity of the Provincial Administration.
From the terrorizing of Freedom fighters, to forcefully taking Chicken to pay registration fees for Kanu, or Harambees, to the most recent use of Chiefs, ACCs and DCCs in the highly unpopular BBI process, Kenyans do not have very fond memories of them.
The current set-up of the National Farmers Data Base is the best example of the use of a large network for good.
After capturing details of the 5 million farmers, the process is now being deepened to capture other parameters that will make delivery of state services easier.
The Ministry of Interior has partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture to establish the first-ever National Farmers Data Base.
Since 70 per cent of Kenya’s Agricultural production is in the hands of small-scale, informal and medium-scale farmers, earlier attempts to distribute farm inputs have completely failed.
Well-connected brokers and middlemen often took advantage of all attempts by the government to reach farmers, snatched the inputs and sold the same to farmers.
But under the CS Kithure Kindiki and his Interior PS Dr Raymond Omollo, this has come to an end.
During the launch of the registration of farmers, Interior Principal Secretary emphasized the importance of a whole-of-government approach during the registration drive, after the conclusion of training for administrators.
According to PS Omollo, the National Government Administration has been embraced as the grassroots structure to spearhead public education, awareness raising, mobilization, identification, and registration of farmers countrywide for consideration in the distribution of fertilizer.
He says that the elaborate structure, which includes eight regions, 47 counties, 369 sub-counties, 978 divisions, 3,950 locations, and 9,043 sub-locations, will ensure a coordinated registration process within the given timeline.
The registration process is voluntary and based on informed decisions by farmers.
Just look at the numbers, and how they are being used positively.
There are 9,043 Assistant Chiefs, and each has an average of five Village Elders. This translates to about 42,000 Officers with their hands on the ground.
And as PS Omollo said during the launch of the registration process, 17,000 Tablets had been distributed to the Counties, and well over 6 million registration forms were distributed to Chiefs, Assistant Chiefs and village elders.
Together with the Ministry of ICT and the ICT Authority of Kenya, we will soon have a Digital Data Base.
Every Farmer, at the click of a button, will be able to see what has been allocated to him or her.
Through SMS notification, farmers will be able to be alerted when fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides are available, this scientific database being set up by the use of raw Data from the Ministry of Interior is just one example of how positive use of State Machinery can bring real change and benefit to the public.
This is the real definition of the Ruto Philosophy of Bottom Up.
As we speak, about 54,000 State Officers under the Interior Department are right now busy setting up Data Base that will help the country save billions that get lost through brokers and unscrupulous middlemen.
This will translate to direct benefit to the people at the bottom.
Two years ago, the 54,000 State Officers in the same Interior Docket were moving from house to house, collecting signatures for the BBI process.
Not to benefit the people on the ground, but a few powerful people at the top.
With the change of strategy under the critical Ministry of Interior, Kenya will end up in a better place.
The author is a media consultant and CEO of Health TV Africa [email protected]