KENAFF collaborated with local extension officers in Kisii County to organize a two-day field event during 7-8 October 2019. The field days had an attendance of 100 farmers from six dairy groups: Nyamangundo Dairy Group, Gomba Dairy Group, Kiseo Dairy Group, Kikapu Women Dairy Group, Morambo Dairy Group, and Elimu Women S.H.G.
In addition, a representative from Kenya Crop and Dairy Marketing Systems (KCDMS) was in attendance.
The event was organized to introduce and advocate for new Brachiaria grass cultivars to farmers in Kisii County. This fulfills part of KENAFF’s role to communicate results and disseminate InnovAfrica technologies.
The project officer explained that KENAFF’s intention to build on the success of the Small Holder Dairy Commercialization Program (SDCP) which KENAFF was engaged in as a Technical Service Provider (TSP) to train dairy groups and apex organizations.
Farmer groups listen to the KENAFF project officer explain the benefits of Brachiaria grass
The project aimed to improve the income from market-oriented production and trade activities of farmers through improved information on market opportunities, cost reduction, value addition, and more reliable trade relations.
He demonstrated the importance of Brachiaria technology in addressing fodder shortage, a common challenge of dairy enterprises, due to its high dry biomass as well as the ecological advantage of addressing climate change due to its ability to sequestrate atmospheric carbon into the soil.
He further illustrated that Brachiaria has a twin advantage of being used as hay and silage. Farmers can therefore make money from the sale of hay or silage.
This has created great opportunities for Brachiaria growers in Kirinyaga and Machakos, who have registered significant progress in the establishment of Brachiaria grass.
Farmers who received the seeds were eager to establish Brachiaria grass in their farms despite the challenge of limited land and the conflicts surrounding land use in Kisii. They promised to plant the grass and share it with their neighbours.
Farmers receive Brachiaria seeds
In Kisii County, KENAFF is working with over 300 Dairy Groups and Apex Organisations. Most of these groups (67%) have benefited from the SDCP project and other groups got grants for fodder production. KENAFF has developed a dissemination strategy to increase the uptake of the Brachiaria grass technology by distributing seeds to established dairy groups that got grants in the production window of the program and with the potential of reaching nine counties in Kenya.
The groups are organized into Dairy Commercialization Areas which bring together all dairy groups and apex organizations together that act as great entry points to reach farmers. Through these platforms, KENAFF seeks to leverage its already established networks in the counties from the ward to the county level to disseminate the technology.
Women make up 60% of the groups, and KENAFF is making deliberate efforts to target them in upscaling Brachiaria grass because, in these communities, women are the decision-makers in matters pertaining to livestock feed choices and food in the household.
This article was published on November 27, 2019, by InnovAfrica