Traditionally, agricultural extension personnel had the task of diffusing scientific knowledge to farm families in the farms and homes. This limited the farmers reached and geographical area of coverage. Despite its many benefits, it has limitations which require other approaches in service delivery.
Food Agriculture Organization recommends a ratio of 1:400 (Extension officers to farmers). This is much below the reality in Agricultural sector. Integration of additional farmers outreach methodologies to train and enhance accessibility to agricultural information would benefit more farm households.
As an organization we continue to reach farmer groups’ directly where extension officers meet them at grassroots level for training and in setting demonstrations.We also receive farmers at our demonstration farm as well as offer trainings at our training hall. However, we have amplified our work by use of electronic media, forums, agricultural shows and exhibitions to diffuse the idea of saving local seeds for agro-biodiversity conservation. Through the interactions we have been able to expand our work and reach more small scale farmers.
We have been hosted by Mulembe FM and Radio Amani on various farmers’ programmes where farmers have been trained on seed saving and ecological agriculture. Our presence in the media has helped farmers to inquire through
phone calls and follow up on seed saving concept. This has also been the outcome of Inooro TV coverage in ‘Mugambo wa Murimi’ show. We also contributed to a documentary through Hivos in collaboration with Open Society Foundation where we highlighted the plight of farmers managed seed systems. This will be useful in reaching and enlightening more farmers across the globe who shares the same challenges. Also we contributed to a podcast available online on the ‘Role of Agro-chemicals in Kenya’. Listen This was developed by Jason Farr a graduate student at American University after his internship at our organization. It unveils the untold story and serves as a guide for farmers to enhance their conservation efforts.
Through agricultural shows and exhibitions we have been able to showcase farm saved seeds to farmers.Our extension officers have trained them on the procedures of mass seed selection, harvesting, extraction, sorting,treatment and storage of seeds. This has also been an opportunity to reach senior government officials for instance during Chandera agricultural field day early December, we hosted Agriculture Cabinet secretary Willy Bett and CEC Agriculture Dr. Immaculate at our stand. In July this year during Nakuru Agricultural show, we hosted by then Nakuru governor Kinuthia Mbugua, CEC agriculture Dr.Stanley and Director of Agriculture.
We recently held annual seed fair with farmers from Kakamega, Nakuru, Nyandarua and Kiambu County. Various organization which includes; Hivos, slow Food Kenya, COSDEP and RODI attended.
The event came two months after an international seed fair at Nyando in partnership with Bioversity international and two weeks after World Organic Congress at India where a farmer from our network and extension officer were sponsored by Hivos and KBIOC to participate.All these gave participants opportunity to learn more on our seed saving concept as well as giving opportunity for farmer-farmer training and mentorship.
Another approach is partnership with like-minded organizations locally and internationally.Through PELUM,
KOAN, ABN and KeFAAS we have been able interact with other agricultural extension Officers across the country.This has been an opportunity for experiential sharing on best practices in various organizations .Collaboration with international organizations;European Centre for Development Policy Management and 4 Italian Universities consortium,Bioversity International and Irish Seed Savers provides more information to farmers through inclusive research at farm level,sharing their work in documentaries and other resources.Through these Seed Savers Network links extension services to farmers from outside world to boost our agro-biodiversity work.