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Over 320,000 farmers trained on better farming and marketing methods

More than 320,000 farmers from across the country have received training and empowerment in the use of modern technologies to improve their farming activities and access better markets.

Phylis Nduva a mango farmer from Makueni County said that they have received training from the USAID funded Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems (KCDMS) on the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which has helped them manage the fruit fly infestation.

Nduva said that a total of 15,000 farmers from Makueni County were trained on how to fight the fruit fly using the IPM technologies.

“We have now increased the volumes that we are taking to the mango processing plant from the previous 200 metric tons to the current 500 metric tons, this has enabled us to get better and stable prices,” said Nduva.

Nduva, speaking on Tuesday at a Nairobi hotel during the KCDMS closeout event, said that the project has assisted them to get a five star rating for their products from their previous two stars rating.

KCDMS Chief of Party (CoP) Dr. Robert Mwadime explained that the project was able to reach 320,000 farmers through different partners and stakeholders adding that in the first phase they worked with 220 partners who were given grants by USAID for different purposes.

“The grants involved co-investment to buy machinery and increase their efficiency or for them to be able to increase their coverage and outsource more farmers,” said Mwadime.

He explained that KCDMS was operational for six years. The projects were in two phases where the first one was funded by USAID to a tune of US$65 million for five years that is from 2017 to 2022 November.

Mwadime said that towards the end of 2022 they received an additional US$6 million from USAID for one year to work in areas where farmers got affected by the effects of Covid-19, extended drought and the Russia-Ukraine war.

“The aim of that project was to promote markets for local and export markets. For the export market we worked in the area of avocado and mangoes and for local food systems we worked in the areas of dairy, indigenous chicken, bananas and passion fruits,” said Mwadime.

Mwadime highlighted that in the mangoes value chain they worked with the County of Makueni in the areas they referred to as regions of reduced fruit fly infestation.

He added that these areas were certified together with the European Union so that they could meet the requirements for that market and Kenya is now able to export mangoes to Europe.

“We worked with a committee that was comprised of different government entities including Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS),  Ministry of Agriculture, the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and the private sector who include processor, exporters, providers of different technologies and universities such as Egerton and we worked together to solve a problem that had made Kenya unable to export to the EU,” said Mwadime.

USAID Kenya and East Africa Deputy Director of the Resilience and Food Security Centre of Excellence Randy Smith said that KCDMS mobilized Sh.26.5 billion from the private sector which benefited Kenyan farmers.

“The project supported over 450,000 farmers to access new markets and reached over 180,000 children with nutrition interventions,” said Smith.

On their future plans, Mwadime said that they are soon launching the Local Food Systems which is geared towards improving the availability of food in the country and more so in the counties

“The aims is to work with counties in efforts to ensure that they produce enough food and have it at reasonable prices within their markets,” said Mwadime.

He added that the other project that is in the pipeline is the Private Sector Activity (PSA) whose aim is to work with the private sector and improve their ability to export and earn the country the foreign currency that it urgently needs.

“We will also have a project on water where USAID is intending to work on water not only for sanitation and consumption but water for production like irrigation which will enable the country to produce high value crops even when there is drought,” said Mwadime.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a

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