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)Monitoringand 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.