Sokopepe Blogs

Enhancing adoption of record keeping through improved marketing skills

By Bob Aston

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 10:00 PM

Sokopepe Ltd, a social enterprise supporting the agricultural sector in Kenya by offering market information through SOKO+ and farm records management service through Farm Record Management Information System (FARMIS) is holding a two-day training for Production Information Agents (PIA) at Methodist Bio-Intensive Agricultural Training Centre in Meru County on July 18-19, 2016.

The training seeks to equip the PIAs with marketing skills to ensure enhanced adoption of FARMIS by the farmers. In addition, the forum has provided a platform for the PIAs to share experiences, challenges and to lay strategies on how they will surpass the target of profiling 16,290 farmers by the end of March 2017.

The FARMIS Innovation roll out in the nine sub counties in Meru County is being supported by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Kenya Feed Innovation Engine (KIE)

Ms. Roseline Ngusa,one of the Sokopepe Ltd Directors addressing the PIAs

Speaking while opening the training, Ms. Roseline Ngusa, one of the Sokopepe Ltd Directors said that the organization is keen on enabling farmer’s view their farming as a commercial business and helping them make right farming decisions for increased production and profitability.  

She said that KIE commissioned Short term technical assistance (STTA) to support the organization in developing a business model and Marketing and distribution plan thus the reason for holding the PIA training.

Training the PIAs would equip them with information that would help them support smallholder farmers who are the majority in Meru County and rarely keep farm records to develop and nurture a culture of record keeping.

In addition, training them would ensure that they provide extension services to farmers and training them on how to keep accurate primary data as such data can inform many aspects of planning that can empower the farmers to improve their incomes, livelihoods, and enhancing food security.

FARMIS innovation seeks to enable the creation of a complete documentation of the farming enterprise resulting in a comprehensive digital database available in a central server and online. This will enables agriculture stakeholders such as the County and central government, agro-input providers, providers of agriculture credit and development partners to get an accurate perspective of the status of agriculture at any given time.

The PIA’s are instrumental in providing farm record keeping data, demand driven extension services, boosting farmer’s access to information and acting as intermediaries between the innovation and farmers.

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Farm records helps farmer to increase investment in profitable enterprises

By Bob Aston

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 10:00 PM

By Thomas Ngaruiya

An innovative solution targeting smallholder farmers in Meru County has helped Mr. Nkanata Mwitari, a 75 year old farmer from Karindine village, Imenti Central to improve his agribusiness.

Mr. Mwitari started farming in 1963 after quitting alcohol and drug addiction. However, he only started keeping farm records from January 2016 after joining Farm Record Management Information System (FARMIS). The innovation by Sokopepe Ltdsupports the agricultural sector in Kenya by offering market information through SOKO+ and farm records management services through FARMIS.

Production Information Agents automating FARMIS records

Funding for the innovation is by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Land O’ Lakes/Kenya Feed the Future Innovation Engine (KFIE).

“I heard about Sokopepe a year ago but I did not see the need to subscribe to FARMIS since I felt like I had enough farming experience. For over fifty years, I never kept farm records,” said Mr. Mwitari.

His interest rose when FARMIS Production Information Agents (PIA) visited his farm early this year and took him through the benefits of joining the innovative service. The visit enabled him to see the value of his farm and the importance of concentrating on high value crops.

“I had to talk with my son who lives in Nairobi to send me the subscription fee. After joining FARMIS I was given a farm book and the PIA also opened my online account,” said Mr. Mwitari.

His journey in farming started at a tender age after he lost his father, which prevented him from going to school. Although he has never had a formal employment, he has managed to educate his eight children through proceeds from his farm.  Two are graduates while the rest have college and secondary education.

He believes that only hard work can make people live a better life. He always spends a minimum of six hours a day tending to his farm together with one permanent employee and casual farm workers or attending agricultural forums.

In August 1961, he started contract farming for French bean companies. However, after some few years, he shifted to banana and coffee farming due to reduced French beans prices caused by increased production.

Mr. Nkanata Mwitari applying fertilizer to his onions

He said that good coffee and banana prices during 1970-1980 enabled him to purchase a 3-acre farm. He then increased the number of coffee trees to 700 but the number reduced in 1990.

“Farming lost its meaning around 1990 due to low and fluctuating prices. Since then I have been shifting from one crop to another and each season prices of commodities always varies,” says Mr. Mwitari.

He is glad that Sokopepe is providing market information, as he is now able to query for market prices across different towns in the County.  He noted that lack of market information led to the formation of Karindine Horticultural Group to enable farmers aggregate and source for markets for bananas, tomatoes, onions, and cabbages.

He said that the group has a ready market for bananas as they are selling a kilo at Kshs 15. He hopes that Sokopepe will help them find market for their crops.

Through FARMIS, Mr. Mwitari is monitoring the progress of his dry onions, which is on an eighth of an acre. He has invested over Kshs 30,000 but he expects to harvest over 4,000 kilograms in August. He hopes that the market information that he is able to access through Sokopepe will enable him to earn close to Kshs 400,000.

“I wish I had joined FARMIS in 2014 when it was piloted in Meru. I am sure my agribusiness would have really grown by now. However, I believe that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step and I have embarked on that journey,” said Mr. Mwitari.

He said that the extension services provided by PIAs has enabled him to know how much he is investing in each enterprise and projected income from each crop. In addition, every week a PIA visits him to check the progress of his crops and to assist him fill the farm book.

He has urged other farmers to join Sokopepe and embrace record keeping as a way of determining profitable crops and the enterprises that are ‘eating’ into their profits. In addition, the record keeping data would enable them to plan their farm enterprises.

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Empowering smallholder farmers with agricultural data

By Bob Aston

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 10:00 PM

By Bob Aston

Data is increasingly becoming an invaluable resource for smallholder farmers. Most smallholder farmers have started relying on tools that can be used to determine, estimate or predict production as a way of improving their farming enterprises. Data has essentially become a capital for sustainable development.

In Meru County, an initiative aimed at ensuring effective management of resources through automated record keeping is bearing fruit. Most farmers are now using record keeping data to plan their farm enterprises and as a result are able to improve their incomes, livelihoods and ensuring food security.

The Farm Record Management Information System (FARMIS) has been built to provide a secure environment to record, store, analyze and generate reports on the farmers’ businesses. It was developed with an aim of reaching out to multiple farmers interested in commercializing farming businesses.

Kaubau Vision CBO members reading about how FARMIS works

The FARMIS innovation is being implemented by Sokopepe, a social enterprise that has been set up by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), an NGO that works with farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

The piloting of the FARMIS innovation is being done in five selected sub-counties in Meru namely: Imenti Central; North Imenti; South Imenti; Buuri and Tigania West.

Following a systematic analysis of the data on farmer profiles, agriculture stakeholders such as the County and central government; agro-input providers; providers of agriculture credit and development partners can get an accurate perspective of the status of agriculture in the sub-counties targeted at any given time.

Benefits of joining FARMIS

Information provided by FARMIS include: market information like commodity prices for both retail and wholesale; Five years weather forecast; credit services and loans financial tips; farming tips; and trade offers.

FARMIS gives farmers holistic year-round monitoring, data collection, entry, storage and mid-season analysis to enable appropriate farm planning and sustainable market linkages. 

It can be used in monitoring outcomes from agriculture and as an impact indicator on national and regional development frameworks.

Joyce Muhindi from South Imenti narrated how she used to plant without keeping any record. At the end of each season she would harvest and sell her produce without knowing whether she had made a profit or loss.

“I never had any documentation about how my farm was performing. Each season I would just buy farm inputs and cater for other farm expenses but I never knew how much I used to spend on farm expenses,” said Joyce.

Last year when FARMIS was launched in Meru she was visited by a Production Information Agent (PIA) who encouraged her to join FARMIS. After a thirty minutes training on importance of farm records and the many benefits she would enjoy she decided to join FARMIS.

Since then she has now realized what she used to miss out on. She is now able to keep up to date farm records. She said through FARMIS she is now able to capture her farm’s profile and record her Irish potatoes, bananas and maize enterprises.

“I wish FARMIS would have been introduced a bit earlier. I have now embraced agri-business. Each season I can now capture cost of tilling, inputs, labour, harvesting and post-harvest operations,” said an excited Joyce.

On her part, Lucy Gatobu from Kainginyo, North Imenti, noted that the trainings that she has been receiving from PIAs has really helped her as she is now better informed on record keeping.

“Every week a PIA officer usually comes to my farm to check how my farm is and to assist me in filling the farm book. I am now able to fill the farm book and give it to the PIA to digitize it without any problem. I am also able to tell which crop is doing well,” said Lucy.

How FARMIS data is obtained

Data collection for FARMIS is done by paper forms, mobile phones, online tablets and computers.  After training, farmers are given a Farm Book for record keeping and tracking of farm activities.

Farmers registering with FARMIS

Information contained in the Farm Book include: crop definition; season; crop financing; farm expenses per crop; tillage details; planting details; weeding details per crop; treatment and pesticides; irrigation/ watering; harvesting for crops; post-harvest activities and cost for crop; summary table for the cost of production; and sales record tracking.

The information is later transcribed into digital format by PIAs on a centralized online server and platform for analysis and storage on a virtual farmer’s account.

Once the data has been entered into the system it gives options for immediate report generation from the platform on crop profiling reports, profit and loss, farmer acreage and land usage.

Following the analysis, the information is normally packaged in annual Agricultural Production Report (APR) that is made available electronically on the website for Sokopepe, FARMIS, public workshops and direct copy distributions.

Data is analysis both by the automatic system flow charts and reports generated by the system for interpretation.  Majority of the back-end data is mined from the system and analyzed using Excel and other statistical packages for detailed reports.

In the present day, farm management is becoming more and more business oriented. Keeping up to date farm records is an important aspect of practicing agribusiness. FARMIS has made this possible for more than 6,000 farmers. The farmers are now able to know which of their business line is breaking even and which ones are eating into their profit margins.

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FARMIS Agricultural Production Report Launched

By Bob Aston

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 10:00 PM

By Anthony Mugo and Milcah Rajula

The Inaugural Agricultural Production report for five sub-counties in Meru, produced using data from FARMIS was launched on April 14, 2015 at a colourful and promising event at the Meru Slopes Hotel. The launch was officiated by the County Director of Agriculture, Mrs. Dionisia M’Eruaki. Also present was the Land O’ Lakes FARMIS Portfolio Manager, Ms. Pauline Mugendi together with Sokopepe staff, led by Director, James Nguo as well as most production information agents (PIAs).Mrs. M’Eruaki welcomed the work being undertaken by Sokopepe through the innovation known as Farm Records Management Information System (FARMIS). The initiative is aimed at supporting small scale farmers, who rarely keep records, to develop and nurture a culture of record keeping.

All smiles after the launch of the FARMIS Agricultural Production Report. They are from left (front row): Robert Kintu, Managing Director, FIT Uganda; Roseline Ngusa, Director Sokopepe; Pauline Mugendi, Agricultural Specialist, Land O’ Lakes/KFIE; Mrs. Dionisia M’Eruaki, Meru County Director of Agriculture; James Nguo, Director, Sokopepe and Anthony Mugo, Deployment Coordinator, Sokopepe. Back row (from left): Martin Murangiri, Training and Recruitment Manager Sokopepe and Susan Gitonga, KFIE Field Officer, Meru. Picture by Dennis Mutwiri.

Sokopepe is a social enterprise that has been set up by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), an NGO that works with farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Under the FARMIS initiative, each farmer invests in a Farm Book which captures information about the name of the farmer, the location of the farm (including GPS coordinates and picture), the size and key farming assets and tools owned by the farmer.  This enables the system to create a complete profile of the farmer.

During the growing season, the farmer records all aspects of the crop production cycle namely: land preparation; treatment and weed control; harvesting; post-harvest activities; and marketing. The amount of money spent at each stage is recorded. The same information is captured in digital form through a smart phone or computer and posted to a central secure server maintained by Sokopepe.

So far more than 6,000 farmers’ profiles have been captured. The piloting of the FARMIS innovation is being done in five selected sub-counties in Meru namely: Imenti Central; North Imenti; South Imenti; Buuri and Tigania West.

Following a systematic analysis of the data on farmer profiles, agriculture stakeholders such as the County and central government; agro-input providers; providers of agriculture credit and development partners can get an accurate perspective of the status of agriculture in the sub-counties targeted at any given time.

Robert Kintu, FIT Uganda Manager addressing participants

Funding support for the work has been provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Land O’ Lakes/Kenya Feed the Future Innovation Engine

While talking about her experience in keeping farm records under the FARMIS initiative, Hilda Kinoti, a farmer in Imenti North, said: “Although I have always grown crops and raised livestock on my farm, I have never kept records on maize, potatoes or bananas. With FARMIS, I am now able to tell if growing these crops is profitable because the record enables me to compare the cost of inputs versus the money I get when I sell the harvest.”

With the completion of the pilot period for the Project, Sokopepe desires to expand the service in all sub-counties in Meru, while working closely with the County Government and other stakeholders.

“Having seen the value added by having accurate primary data directly from farmers, we believe such data can inform many aspects of planning that can empower small scale farmers to improve their incomes, livelihoods and food security,” said Anthony Mugo, the Sokopepe Deployment Coordinator.

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FARMIS-Kenya improving lives of farmers in Meru

By Bob Aston

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 10:00 PM

By Bob Aston

The importance and value of record and information management has been neglected by most smallholder farmers in Kenya. Most smallholder farmers rarely keep farm records and in most cases those who keep farm records do not use it to monitor their farm activities.

It is due to this fact that Sokopepeintroduced Farm Records Management Information System-FARMIS-Kenyain Meru County in April 2014 to address this challenge. Since its introduction about 4,000 farmers in five sub-counties in Meru namely: Buuri, Central Imenti, North Imenti, South Imenti and Tigania West are applying the FARMIS-Kenya innovation.

Women from Kaubao CBO being trained

FARMIS Kenya is a farm management and diagnostic tool based on the use of farm records aimed at identifying productivity trends, profitability of different farm enterprises and producing evidence for use in decision making at the farm, County and National levels.

Joyce Muhindi from South Imenti narrated how she used to plant without keeping any record. At the end of each season she would harvest and sell her produce without knowing whether she had made a profit or loss.

“I never had any documentation about how my farm was performing. Each season I would just buy farm inputs and cater for other farm expenses but I never knew how much I used to spend on farm expenses,” said Joyce.

Last year when FARMIS-Kenya was launched in Meru she was visited by a Production Information Agent (PIA) who encouraged her to join FARMIS-Kenya. After a thirty minutes training on importance of farm records and the many benefits she would enjoy she decided to join FARMIS-Kenya.

Since then she has now realized what she used to miss out on. She is now able to keep up to date farm records. She said through FARMIS-Kenya she is now able to capture her farm’s profile and record her Irish potatoes, bananas and maize enterprises.

“I wish FARMIS-Kenya would have been introduced a bit earlier. I have now embraced agri-business. Each season I can now capture cost of tilling, inputs, labour, harvesting and post harvest operations,” said an excited Joyce.

Mr.Murangiri showing how the FARMIS book is being filled

On her part, Lucy Gatobu from Kainginyo, North Imenti, noted that the trainings that she has been receiving from PIAs has really helped her as she is now better informed on record keeping.

“Every week a PIA officer usually comes to my farm to check how my farm is and to assist me in filling the farm book. I am now able to fill the farm book and give it to the PIA to digitize it without any problem. I am also able to tell which crop is doing well,” said Lucy.

Similarly, Joseph Munyua from Central Imenti noted that the fact that FARMIS-Kenya has focused on Irish potatoes, bananas and maize value chain has enabled many farmers in the area to enjoy the various benefits offered.

Joseph said that he is now able to capture records and truly practice farming as a business. He has ensured that he is keeping up to date records of his maize and bananas. He is now planning to use his progress report for possible linkages to partners or stakeholders.

In order to ensure that farmers continue to enjoy the benefits of FARMIS-Kenya, Martin Murangiri, FARMIS-Kenya Recruitment and Training Officer has ensured that Meru County has thirty two (32) PIAs who train farmers on record keeping as well as recruit more farmers.

“We are trying to ensure that farmers improve their economic gains and increase profits. It is clear that effective record keeping and information management is key to the running of a successful agri-business,” said Murangiri.

FARMIS enables farmers to: Generate on-demand customized reports on the status of their enterprises, produce seasonal profit and loss statements, project the income potential of their farming enterprises, access input and other service providers, develop a farm activity calendar and link with peer farmers for aggregating produce to sell in bulk.

Record keeping is an essential tool to any farmer. In the present day farm management is becoming more and more business oriented. In order to become a successful farmer in the modern days, one needs to be a good producer as well as a good financial manager. This can only be achieved when a farmer keeps good and accurate records.

FARMIS is supported by Land O’ Lakes through the Kenya Feed the Future Innovation Engine (KFIE)with funding from United States Agency for International Development (USAID)Feed The Future (FTF) Initiative. FARMIS is among the 14 innovations being implemented in Meru.

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High Performing FARMIS Agents Feted

By Bob Aston

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 10:00 PM

By Anthony Mugo


A one-day meeting that brought together Production Information Agents (PIAs) implementing an innovation known as Farm Records Management Information System (FARMIS) was held on Friday, February 6, 2015 at a Meru Hotel. In attendance were 27 of 28 PIAs working in Meru’s five sub-counties of Buuri, ImentI Central, Imenti North, Imenti South and Tigania West.
The aim of the meeting was four fold, to: review the work so far; provide an opportunity for PIAs to appreciate themselves for the good work done so far;  identify challenges they are encountering; and lay strategies on how they will surpass the target of profiling 5,000 farmers by the end of March, 2015. 
The FARMIS innovation is being implemented by Sokopepe, a new company being incubated by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN). It aims to inculcate a culture of record keeping among small scale farmers in Meru. Without records, farmers are unable to determine whether the farm enterprises in which they engage are profitable or not. With this information, farmers are able to choose enterprises that bring better income. Ultimately this should lead to increased production, household income, food and nutritional security.=]                                
 

Roseline Ngusa, FARMIS Director, addressing PIAs in Meru.
Initially, FARMIS is focusing on three value chains namely banana, maize and Irish Potato. Other than cash crops, most farmers in Meru grow these crops and sell surplus. Banana growing is practiced in all the sub-counties of focus except Buuri, where most small scale farmers mainly grow potatoes.
Nearly 100 per cent of small scale farmers involved in the innovation report that they never keep records for the three crops. Farmers participating in the innovation are required to capture information about inputs and labour throughout a season namely; land preparation, planting, treatment (or weeding); harvesting; and post-harvest services. By the time of the meeting, more than 3,500 farmers were applying the innovation.
At the end of the meeting, the best performing PIAs were recognised and given some gifts. “We want to be fair and ensure that PIAs performing exceptionally well are awarded while those whose performance needs to improve are provided a chance to learn how their counterparts have dealt with challenges preventing them from achieving set targets,” noted Roseline Ngusa, a Director of Sokopepe.
Those who were feted were:Rose Karwitha (Meru Central),Nicholas Mwirigi (South Imenti) ,Hariet Marangu (Central Imenti) and Lilian Gitonga (South Imenti).
At the end of the meeting, all PIAs rededicated themselves to ensuring that they will meet agreed targets before the project comes to an end of March 2015. Sokopepe staff present were: Martin Murangiri (Training and Recruitment Officer), Anthony Mugo (Deployment Coordinator) Dennis Mutwiri  (Techincal Officer )and Roseline Ngusa (Director). Also in attendance was Mr.Victor Mirori who is the Kenya Feed the Future Innovation Engine (KFIE)Monitoring  and Evaluation (M& E) field officer based in Meru.
FARMIS is supported by Land O’ Lakes through the KFIE with funding from USAID Feed The Future (FTF) Initiative. FARMIS is among the 14 innovations being implemented in Meru.
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FARMIS plays Host to Visiting USAID Team

By Bob Aston

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 10:00 PM


 By Martin  Murangiri
Records Management Information System (FARMIS) on January 14, 2015 played host to a team from United State Agency for International Development USAID. The team was led by Irene Andanyi a communication officer with USAID. She was accompanied by Susan Nkirote and Victor Mirori both of them Meru-based field staff of the Kenya Feed the Future Innovation Engine (KFIE). 
 
The team was particularly interested in learning how FARMIS has assisted farmers grow economically as well as enabling them access credit services from the financial institutions.  They met Sokopepe officials and a few beneficiaries who were interviewed. Two farmers, Hilda Gitobu and Joseph Munyua received the visitors on their farms.
Farmers displaying farms books.
The farmers explained that keeping records is a thing they have never done before but appreciated the efforts made by Sokopepe to help them keep records.”Sijawahi kuwa na vitabu vya ukulima wala kuweka mahesabu ya shamba langu hapo mbeleni, lakini kwa sasa naeza jua ni mmeagani unaleta faida Zaidi ya mwingine (I have never kept farmm records  before. Thanks to Sokopepe since I can now tell which crop is doing well than the other from the records).” Explained Lucy Gatobu a farmer from Kainginyo.
About 2,000 farmers in five sub-counties in Meru namely: Buuri, Central Imenti, North Imenti, South Imenti and Tigania West are applying the FARMIS innovation.
The KFIE has supported various agricultural innovations funded by USAID, one of them being FARMIS, which is rolled out by a social enterprise company called Sokopepe affiliated to Arid Lands Information Network, ALIN.
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Meru County Hosts KFIE Technical Team

By Bob Aston

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 10:00 PM

By:Martin Murangiri

The Kenya Feed the Future Innovation Engine (KFIE) yesterday held its 2nd meeting yesterday with the County of Meru’s Department of Agriculture. The meeting was hosted by the County Executive for Agriculture Hon. Prof. Kaburu M’Ribu. He was however represented by Deputy County Director of Agriculture Mr. Kaburu 

PIAs Inputting data on FARMIS Website

The KFIE is an initiative of Land O’ Lakes which it manages on behalf of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Innovations represented are helping farmers in terms improving production, reducing the cost of production through coming up with means of curbing crop diseases, market linkages and new management skills. The meeting was aimed at making the county government know what project are being carried out in       the  county, by who and where.
Participants were Prof. Mutuku Kavoi who is the head of Monitoring and Evaluation with KFIE. Others from KFIE were Susan Nkirote and Victor Kimathi Mirori. The innovation groups present were Lachlan, Real IPM, Quest Agriculture and Sokopepe (Farm Records Management Information System – FARMIS).). Real IPM in partnership with UoN is developing a biological control of fruit flies in mangoes. They are doing it in two farms in South Imenti. Lachlan have come up with technologies that are aiming at improving the potato production, it is nicknamed “Viazi power”. This aims at increasing the productivity of the potatoes to small scale farmers. Quest Agriculture have come up with an innovation that is helping the farmers be able to test their soil composition and give the results within thirty five (35) minutes a process that was taking three months there before. They are using a portable kit and they are doing it from the farm!
FARMIS qualified as a grantee by of the KFIE as one of the Innovations that will help the farmers acquire new management skills in their farms. They help farmers to keep both analogue and digital records. They have employed Production Information Agents (PIAs) who have been provided with smart phones. The PIAs goes round the farmers’ farm helping them to keep records of the expenses they have incurred on their farms as well as the crop enterprises. All these data is entered in the Farm Book which is also saved in a web site that is supported by a powerful and secure server .By the end of the season the farmer is given a statement outlining the margin losses and profits he/she has made on the farm. With this, the farmer is able to make decision on the crop enterprise to concentrate on. Also, the farmer is advised on where to improve on his/her farm.
FARMIS is operating in South Imenti, North Imenti, Central Imenti, Buuri and some part of Tigania.
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Farmer profiling

By Bob Aston

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 10:00 PM


 By Martin Murangiri
The process of profiling farmers begins with taking a primary profile of the farmer including: name, age range, gender, size of land, location of the land – including GPS coordinates – and whether the land is owned or leased. The Production Information Agents(PIA) then takes a photograph of the farmer and posts the profile to a central server located at Arid Lands Information Networks (ALIN) headquarters in Nairobi. The information is also available online, enabling real time updates.
Training Farmers on the use of FARMIS at Kanyakine Kiringa last week .
The primary profile enables the farmer to begin the process of digitizing his records. Those who have been profiled receive a certificate and they can visit their profiles online at www.farmiskenya.co.ke,. Thereafter, the farmer acquires a Farm Book and starts keeping a record of all production activities he undertakes on the farm  including the cost of inputs such as seeds and fertilizer and the cost of labour associated with each stage of crop production namely tilling, tending the crop, harvesting and post-harvest costs.
As the farmer inputs the data into the Farm Book, the PIA visits the farmer periodically to capture the same data on a smart phone and upload it to the central server. This data can then be availed to different agencies that work with farmers such as banks, input providers and agriculture officials. It becomes much  easier for banks to determine the credit worthiness of farmers who get into FARMIS.
There are numerous advantages from getting onto FARMIS. At the end of each season, the farmer is able to tell with accuracy whether or not he has made a profit from a certain crop. Should he realize that he lost money, he can make an informed decision to grow a different crop the next season. With a complete record of his farming enterprise, the burden of proof of creditworthiness is greatly reduced because the bank can access his records at the touch of a button.
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Meru Farmer Ventures into Growing Mushrooms

By Bob Aston

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 10:00 PM

By Martin Murangiri 

Eating mushrooms may sound foreign especially to most of the communities in eastern Kenya particularly the Meru community. Nevertheless, mushroom growing can be a thriving enterprise that can only be compared to the seeds of gold.

A picture of mushroom from Google
Mr. Peterson Khilingo, a farmer in Meru County, has left many perplexed because he has ventured in the farming of mushrooms. Thanks to an initiative by ALIN known as Farm Records Management Information System (FARMIS) which has offered to give him farming tips as well as connecting him to other successful farmers of the same crop. FARMIS will also link him with commodity buyers through online marketing for his produce through another ALIN service known as SOKO+.

Talking to the FARMIS Kenya reporters, Mr.Khilingo a former military man, said that farming is the only venture the people can rely on since it is the backbone of their livelihoods.
“FARMIS has just come at the right time. I have been dreaming of doing farming for some time but lack of market information and farming tips has really been a bottle neck for me. With the help of FARMIS, I will make a fortune from mushroom farming,” said Mr.Khilingo
.

The new farmer is targeting to grow mushrooms on his 5-hectare piece of leased land at Isiolo. He has already prepared the land in readiness to planting.
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