When Lucy Kaari of Makandi Commercial Village, Meru, joined the E-warehouse program and adopted proper agronomic practices on her maize farm, the results were evident in the subsequent season. She used to harvest 10 bags of maize on her 2 acres of land but now harvests 40 bags in the same piece of land. “Farm Concern has helped us so much,” Lucy beams, as she stands on her two-acre maize farm.
“I first met with FCI staff in March 2013. They called us for a meeting in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and told us about the program. They then asked us to select a person to train for the program,” Lucy says. Makandi villagers selected Lucy, as the Village Knowledge Worker (VKW). Under the E-Warehouse program, a VKW is issued with a GPS smart phone with digitized agronomic and market information to offer technical support to farmers, share market prices and collect data on stored grains.
Under the program, FCI staff and VKWs also conduct trainings, workshops and demonstrations for farmers on topics such as proper drying and storage techniques, type materials to use, and how to measure the moisture content in their grain. As the VKW for Makandi CV, Lucy received training as a facilitator who would in turn train her fellow farmers. Additionally, Lucy also benefited from the knowledge acquired and as an example to her fellow villagers, started applying the knowledge she learned.
“Before FCI came into the area, we often used low quality seeds, leading to lower yields. When they came, they introduced us to high quality seeds and trained us on proper planting techniques. For example, I used to put three maize seedlings in one hole, expecting to get higher yields. However, FCI taught us the proper planting spacing for maize. They also taught us how to use fertilizers and other inputs,” Lucy adds. In that season, Lucy planted one and two maize seeds alternately per hole according to the training received. The results of adopting these proper agronomic procedures were evident in the subsequent season when she harvested 40 bags of maize.
In addition, she had a ready market. “FCI linked us with traders who came and bought our maize from the store. Before then, we used to sell through brokers at a price of Kshs. 1,500 per bag. After the first season with FCI, the traders bought the maize bags for Kshs. 3, 050 per bag,” Lucy says. In the next two seasons, the CV sold their bags for Kshs. 2,700 and Kshs. 2,800, which is almost double of what they used to sell before the intervention.
“Because I am selling at a higher price, it is now easier to pay school fees for my children. I have also been able to lease more land and employ my fellow villagers,” she concludes.
FCI VISION : To have commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond