- Agriculture knowledge centres are increasingly becoming popular across the country.
- Bold moves are being made towards building the capacity of smallholder and commercial farmers through knowledge sharing.
Agriculture knowledge centres are increasingly becoming popular across the country.
They are basically sites where farmers can walk in and learn practically from A to Z of crop production at the demonstration plots.
Bold moves are being made towards building the capacity of smallholder and commercial farmers through knowledge sharing at various excellence learning centres established across the country.
The Yara East Africa has taken great strides in creating such Knowledge Centres across the country.
In these centres, farmers walk in, learn everything about crop production at the demonstration plots while sharing their challenges with an experienced team of Yara agronomists.
The objective of these centres is to equip growers with knowledge to increase their crop production, crop quality and achieve optimal returns from their cropping ventures.
It also helps farmers learn about climate adaptation and resilience through various innovative farming technologies.
According to a recent survey done by the Central Bank of Kenya, there are about nine million farmers in the country, most of them small-scale growers spread across rural villages (Central Bank of Kenya, Agricultural Sector Survey of May 2023) and dependent on rain-fed farming systems.
Therefore, if majority of our food producers are domiciled in the rural areas, we must create avenues for farmers to access innovative solutions to address their production challenges, if we are to achieve food sufficiency goals and rural economy transformation.
Kenya continues to rely on agriculture as one of the major contributors to its gross domestic product.
However, the sector’s contribution contracted to 21.2 per cent due to adverse weather conditions over the last two years (Economic Survey 2023), hence putting pressure on food prices and foreign currency reserves because of food imports.
The main factor impeding the country from achieving food sufficiency is the low crop productivity, which is still way below the potential.
This is driven by among other factors, poor extension systems, inadequate technology adoption (inputs, crop management, post-harvest management) and climate change.
As a key and responsible player in the agriculture sector, Yara’s ambition is to grow A Nature-Positive Food Future through scaling up knowledge sharing to responsibly produce more food, more sustainably and more profitably for the growers.
Adapting to the emerging threats to food production is critical for our food security as highlighted by the government and calls for rapid action to empower growers to produce more per unit area to be able to feed the growing population.
Considering that up to 54 per cent of household expenditure goes to food, the time to act is now as clearly underlined by the present government that the goal of lowering the cost of living shall be driven primarily through catalyzing crop production.
The Yara Knowledge Centres that have been established across farming communities provide the key railroads for millions of farmers to access viable solutions to their varied challenges by interacting with crop experts and adopting the curated learnings in their own farms.
The rollout of the centres has brought a positive change in the rural areas as beneficiary farmers continue to increase their yields and incomes every year while building resilience to the ever-increasing climate change risks.
The key objectives of the knowledge centres are;
• Deliver agronomy knowledge closer to farmers through practical demonstration of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) to enhance crop productivity for the key crops and close the yield gap.
• Catalyze sustainability in crop production systems through demonstrations on regenerative agriculture practices- technologies for effective soil, water and nutrient management.
• Provide access to quality and affordable farm inputs (seeds, fertilizers and crop protection) at the last mile through selling points at the knowledge centres or through Yara digital platform.
By gaining new insights and localized knowledge from the trials and demonstrations in the hubs, farmers are better prepared to overcome the emerging challenges of climate change, poor soil health and crop nutrition.
Through this initiative, farmers not only get the classroom (theoretical) knowledge typically shared in seminars and social media engagements, but they also get a practical (on-site) engagement through the demonstration farms.
At Yara Knowledge Centres, farmers practically learn better crop husbandry practices, interpretation of soil analysis reports and rationale to select suitable quality inputs to meet their crop and soil requirements throughout the crop cycle.
This collaborative knowledge sharing has helped farmers put into practice what they learn in their day-to-day farming activities, thus driving a wind of prosperity in the rural economies.
Florence Koros, a commercial farmer in Uasin Gichu County, has benefitted from this initiative.
She has been farming maize and wheat on her 100-acre farm for the last 22 years.
Koros explained the declining soil fertility, erratic rains, high cost of inputs and lack of knowledge on new technologies to adapt as some of the challenges that continue to affect productivity on her farm.
However, after implementing the agronomy knowledge she got from the Yara Knowledge Centres established at Komool Farms, she has been able to build a foundation for sustainable production at her farm, and this has significantly improved her yields in quantity and quality.
Florence is already achieving Maize yields above 3.5t/Acre which is way above the national average production of 0.7t/Acre.
In the Coffee regions, the Cooperatives that have benefited from Yara Knowledge centres are delivering yields of over 8kg cherry per tree which is more than double the national average of 3kg cherry per tree.
Such cooperatives can deliver higher returns to thousands of their smallholder members.
In collaboration with key partners, such as distributors, commercial farms and cooperative societies, Yara Kenya has already set up knowledge centres in Kirinyaga, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Meru, Siaya, Nakuru and Kisumu counties.
Over 10,000 farmers have already been trained at the various knowledge centres since inception.
The initiative shall continue to expand to other counties to reach more growers and endeavors to deliver prosperity to the farming communities by contributing to increase of farmer incomes, sustainability, and closure of the yield gap in Kenya that will in overall rejuvenate the rural economies and by large Kenya’s economy in the long term.