The Inter-Region Economic Network (IREN) is training farmers to build their capacity and knowledge to uptake latest farming technologies to improve on their farming practices.
IREN’s Founding Director James Shikwati says that the training also targeted innovators on how to pitch ideas to investors.
“We have a special group of farmers whom we are trying to create their capacity to uptake technology that comes from innovators,” he said.
The organization is currently conducting its 16th Annual Technology and Agricultural Fair at Bukura Agricultural Training Center, where innovators will showcase their innovations to farmers and train them on how to use them.
He said the Agriculture fair comes after the organization did test runs on latest technologies in Agriculture in October and November, which included Solar powered milling equipment, solar powered cooler boxes, and pedal driven pump systems for water and honey extractors among others.
The Agriculture Technology fair has brought together farmers who specialize in banana production from Kisii County and those specializing in sweet potatoes and cassava production from Siaya County.
Others are farmers from Kakamega who specialize in leafy vegetable production. The agricultural fair will connect young innovators and their technologies to farmers.
The event will culminate in the launching of a special book, titled ‘The Innovator- A guideline to Inventive Problem Solving’.
“IREN has been managing a lot of these activities for the last 20 years and we have come with these basic guidelines that anybody can use to be able to invent, be an innovator or be able to manage their business or their farming better,” Shikwati noted.
He said IREN was concerned with bringing technologies that will reduce post-harvest losses among farmers by training and linking them to innovators who have the technologies. “We are super excited that some of the innovations that are being discussed include storage solutions for farmers ranging from vegetables, which are highly perishable, cassava and sweet potatoes,” he explained.
The Founding Director said that the idea of solving problems is the biggest challenge in the current society, noting that the platform gives community members the opportunity to solve problems in an inventive way.
He said IREN targets the entire Lake Region Economic bloc with a focus on young people to be exposed to what their counterparts on the international scene are also engaged in.
The organization has 10 farmer hubs that benefit from the training and linkages to innovators, for instance a farmer hub in Siaya County, which has 500 members and does over 10 000 tons of cassava production.
Another farmer hub is in Mumias and specializes in African leafy vegetables, which has become popular for people who are health conscious. The hub has 120 members.
He noted that the innovators who have been brought on board are positioning themselves to provide solutions to farmers across the region and the country.
The Director called for the establishment of more farmer hubs as centers of excellence, where farmers can learn about the latest technologies that are introduced in the market.
By Moses Wekesa and Margaret Andeso