30th April 2014- Women groups from Meru, Embu and Nyandarua counties who are beneficiaries of a public private partnership dubbed Women Agribusiness Promotion Initiative (WAPI) participated in an agribusiness open day, officiated by Yariv Kedar representing HE Gil Haskel Ambassador of Israel to Kenya.
With support from UN Women, Amiran Kenya, Smallholder Horticultural Marketing Programme (SHoMaP) and the Israel Embassy Nairobi, the women groups showcased the great strides they have made towards changing their livelihoods through modern agricultural technologies while empowering their communities. Prior to the open day the participants attended an intensive two- day review and capacity building workshop involving 48 smallholder women farmers and eight sub county agricultural officers (4 men and 4 women) from the WAPI pilot sites.
“This is a perfect example of how an idea that was born in a Nairobi boardroom, has turned rather swiftly into actual farms that are producing fresh agricultural products” said H.E. Gil Haskel, in his speech read by Yariv Kedar, Amiran Deputy Managing Director Kenya at the open day. “This will benefit the Kenyan communities that are so needy of these technologies that will allow them be self-sufficient”.
Initiated in November, 2013 WAPI targets over 300 rural small holder female farmers in the three counties and aims to transform women in agriculture through a conceptual shift from focus on subsistence farming practices. The objectives of this initiative are to: increase household income; enhance household food security; and improve rural livelihoods.
“Four of 10 groups have already started harvesting their crops and have successfully begun selling their products for income. I think we can be proud of what this partnership has achieved so far”, said Ms Karin Fueg, Deputy Country Director, UN Women Kenya.
During the open day, Professor Kaburu M’ribu, Meru County Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, urged the women farmers to “live well, eat well and work well and that way you will influence others including men to live well too”.
Ms Banu Khan, UN Women’s Programme Specialist for Women Economic Empowerment programme highlighted that “due to persistent gender inequalities in agriculture, women are unable to realize their full economic potential, and so remain invisible in national statistics.
It is, therefore, very important to invest in women and enhance their access to productive resources for sustained economic growth”.
Speaking at the open day event, women farmers expressed their gratitude to the partners of the WAPI initiative. “The training we have received so far has been very helpful; I will apply the same techniques in my farm. We have never seen such a small piece of land that can earn you a considerable amount of money”, said Lucy Karimi, Marurui Women’s Group, Meru.
The two-day training used participatory adult methodologies and covered topics such as group organization and management; community-based advocacy; table banking; marketing in agribusiness; public procurement; and participatory monitoring and evaluation. The participants also benefited from a practical training session at the Amiran Demonstration Center in Meru where they learned about different types of horticultural crops that can be grown in and outside of green- houses using the drip irrigation system, as well as how to ensure personal protection when in contact with chemicals. “We are really transformed, we have knowledge, we can train others even though we do not have a degree, but we have the know-how of greenhouse production and management”, added Teresiah Njagi , Kathanu Stars Group, Embu
Achievements so far
In the past six months, WAPI has realized several milestones including: identification, assessment and selection of 10 self-help groups; procurement and installation of 10 Amiran Farmers’ Kit (AFK); 30 women farmers from the pilot groups trained as trainers in green house agronomy; a review and refresher training for 58 farmers was held in April 2014 in Meru. This included community based agronomists, group leaders and sub-county agricultural officers. Furthermore, nearly half of the groups have started harvesting and are already earning an income through the sale of their produce.
Between May and November 2014, WAPI will focus on providing continuous mentoring and coaching to the farmers; linking the groups to markets and other business development services; and documenting lessons learnt to guide and inform the scale up of the WAPI initiative in the future.
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