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 Sokopepestaff, 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.
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.
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.