The County Government of Kericho has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD), to provide farming information to farmers and complement efforts by Agricultural Extension Services.
The County’s Ministry of Agriculture, through PAD, will use a two-way SMS information system that provides actionable and customized farming advice to the farmers for free.
Over 10,000 farmers will benefit from this technology, where lead representatives will be trained on how to manage, appreciate and use the new information system, to provide bulk SMS to farmers, exchange relevant questions on their farming and challenges they are undergoing.
The Information will be relayed in real time, thus providing the much-needed information and help in eradicating information gap.
Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project Coordinator, Eng. Odoyo J. Bittar, lauded Precision Agriculture for Development organization for aiding farmers in Kericho, adding that the move to provide farmers with another option to access farming information and extension services, was going to enhance food production for both home consumption and surplus for sale.
“Farmers groups who are mainly producers of sorghum, finger millet, bananas and dairy farming, who will benefit from this program will utilize the information system to run their farming activities and will benefit richly from agricultural practices, to increase their farming production and eventually earn good returns in order to uplift their families,” Bittar said.
Maize farmers in Kericho have successfully benefited from the technology during the fight against Fall Army-Worm, where a farmer in the area utilized PAD SMS to contain the attack on their crops.
Through this system, farmers were able to distinguish between Fall Army-Worm and other worms, where they used the available information to fight the infestation.
Jackson Abuli, an agronomist at the Precision Agriculture for Development, said PAD will provide farmers with free, timely information on the crops they intend to grow and any other advice on pest, farm inputs and other practices they need to use, for better yields.
PAD also assists farmers to access rigorous and better research methods on various crops. The system will also avail farmers with impactful messages which will be beneficial to them.
“Evidence obtained as a result of use of the SMS services, revealed that smallholder sugar cane farmers realized increased yields by 11.5 percent, whereas farmers who were advised through PAD to apply agricultural lime fertilizers to their sugar cane, were discovered to have achieved a 10-24 percent increase and studies show that the same farmers were more likely to use the fertilizers in their next planting season, in order to achieve similar results, Mr Abuli said.
Kericho County Chief Officer for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Miss Lillian Kerio, emphasized the need for farmers to get extension services through the platform, so as to obtain the latest and new farming techniques to enhance their farm practices. Hare knowledge, and Marketplace was built to give farmers the products they need to
With the adoption of PAD, farmers are now set to have an increase in their farming practices, thanks to the PAD SMS where farmers will connect to trusted resources and can be easily accessed by farmers who have mobile phones.
By Dominic Cheres and Betty Chepkemoi