Village-based Advisors show thousands of Kiambu farmers how to become food secure
AGRA’s private sector-led Extension Approach, which involves Village-based Advisors (VBAs) using ‘Mother-Baby’ demonstrations to teach farmers how to increase maize crop productivity, has been adopted by the Kiambu County Government as a quick and cost-effective way of achieving food security. To date, more than 400 VBAs have been selected and trained by the County’s Agricultural Officers who are responsible for extension.
Teresia Njoki, a farmer in Kiambu County who has benefited from the training, describes it as “lifesaver” that has positively changed her life. “I live here, and I have seen how VBAs have taught us. I have seen farmers put into practice what they have learnt. This encouraged me to attend the training sessions conducted by my VBA,” says Teresia.
For Teresia, seeing is believing. “At first, I didn’t apply what I had learnt to my entire farm. On one side of the farm, I used the knowledge that I had beforehand; that is, planting five seeds in a hole and adding manure on top of them. This was the same practice that had failed me over and over again. Sometimes I thought to myself that old is gold because that is the only way I knew how to farm for all the years before the VBA training,” she says shyly.
On the other side of the farm, she used seed of the new early-maturing variety, and planted only 2 seeds in a hole, instead of five, as advised by her VBA. “Wow! I was surprised to see the difference. The difference was like day and night. Not only were the maize cobs from my usual practice, small and dejected but there were fewer cobs per plant. This can’t be compared with the large, generous, bountiful, and healthy maize cobs I got by applying the training I got from my VBA,” said Teresia while visibly grateful.
“Before my VBA came, there were no big harvests. We used to harvest tiny quantities such that the children could not eat to their fill. However, we now see the bigger harvests and the children are content. Also, we can sell the excess and do other things with the money,” adds Teresia.
Teresia’s fondest dream is for her children to access good education and to ‘be somebody in life,’ she shyly says. She is now independent and not living at the mercy of neighbors whenever she needs food. She feels that she can also help others, buy telling them her story, of how agriculture is transforming her life.
Teresia’s story has been the story of more than 20,000 farmers in Kiambu County. Her story is one of belief that agriculture can be a successful venture. These farmers are hard-working people who are determined to embrace change and make it work in agriculture. And now they are visibly rewriting the history of their County. These are the farmers of Kiambu County in Kenya who have adopted the technology promoted by County Extension Officers working hand-in-hand with their Village-based Advisors.