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Agrodealer-led climate smart demos have taken an upward trajectory changing the agribusiness landscape. KMT’s implementing partner in the crop seed sector, Agri Experience, facilitated climate smart agrodealer-led demos for the 2016 short rains (Sep/Oct). Field days that involve local farmers, seed companies and other agri-input suppliers have been on-going since Dec 2016. The demos are aimed at:

  1. Encouraging farmers to plant a wide variety of crops by showcasing the potential of climate-smart crops that are properly targeted for their agro-ecology. Emphasis was placed on non-maize crops such as sorghum, beans and cowpeas.
  2. Encouraging farmers to increase their uptake of certified seeds and in particular climate smart varieties (that is, varieties which are water efficient, pest/disease tolerant; have high germination rate; early maturing; drought tolerant) by seeing the differences in yield between certified and recycled seeds.

Demo plot put up by an agro-dealer to facilitate farmer learning on use of seeds of improved varieties which would help farmers deal with climate change.

 

The agrodealer led demos were carried out by 71 agrodealers from 20 counties- Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Murang’a, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Laikipia, Machakos, Kitui, Makueni, Kajiado, Kisii, Nyamira, Homabay, Kisumu, Siaya, Busia, Kakamega, Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta.

The selection of the counties for the demos was based on:

  • Counties with low information on alternative seed choices but with high potentials of adoption of certified seeds
  • Counties with high numbers of smallholder farmers
  • Counties with presence of some organized women farmer groups
  • Counties where Agri Experience programs are running
  • Counties exhibiting stressed climatic conditions
  • Counties with willing agrodealers to participate in the demo activities

The agrodealers were linked to seed companies who gave sample seeds based on MbeguChoice advice on positioning as well as climate smart attributes such as drought tolerance, water efficient, pest and diseased tolerance, early maturing and high yielding. Seed varieties from different seed companies were planted next to each other so as to provide clear comparison. 9 Seed companies partnered with agrodealers for these demos.

An agrodealer demonstating to farmers how MbeguChoice works. The portal helps farmers access information about the right seed variety for their ecological zone

 

Over 250 demos were planted across all the counties; unfortunately, due extreme weather conditions (hail in certain regions in Western Kenya and the current drought), approximately 17% of the target demos were unsuccessful. By the end of February 2017, 52 field days will have been carried out with over 3,000 small holder farmers in attendance. Many more farmers have been impacted by these agrodealer led climate smart demoes both directly and/or indirectly.

The field days are organised by the host agrodealer with seed companies and other agri-input companies in attendance to highlight to farmers the best agronomic practices to use to achieve best results and high yields with their products.

            Farmers interact woth seed company representatives during a field day in Embu

 

The results are beginning to show with anecdotal reports from farmers who previously recycle seed buying and/or planning to buy certified seed. The awe from farmers was very evident when they realized that certain crops that are considered not typical for that region can actually do well.

“I usually buy certified seed but this time round I used the ones I had harvested last season, none has done well.” Ms Nancy Kina, a farmer in Embu. Her maize stunted at the milk stage.

A farm demonstrating crop diversification at one of the demo plots. On this farm, there are cow peas, maize and sorghum crops planted

 

Later in 2017, Agri Experience will facilitate two research studies to establish the impact of the demos to farmers in terms of change in agronomic practices as a result of attending a field day (such as move from planting recycled to certified seed; planting ecologically correct varieties; variation in crops planted), as well as assess the impact these demos have had on agrodealers sales volumes.