Demonstration (demo) farms are the most effective extension education tools. For smallholder farmers, demo plots provide an opportunity to demonstrate and teach appropriate technologies, as well as venues to test new methods side by side with traditional methods. Although they require considerable time and effort, the payback comes when farmers more readily adapt practices they perceive to be effective and appropriate under local conditions.
KMT, through its Agricultural Inputs Sector interventions is engaging with large inputs suppliers to establish demo farms in Central, Eastern and Western Kenya regions. Top priority has been given to Meru and Kirinyaga Counties.
Key partnerships have been established with Orbit Chemicals and Athi River Mining’s (ARM) Mavuno fertilizer.
If farmers are educated on how best to farm a wide variety of crops, they are more likely to produce higher yields, farm more efficiently and sustainably on the land available to them, and be able to sell their produce for higher prices.
In recent months, a total of 90 demo farms have been established through KMT’s support, with over 6,000 farmers getting invaluable education on best practices.
Maize crop on a demo farm
Mavuno fertilizer has had demo farms established and farmer trainings conducted in Kirinyaga and Meru Counties. The training is focused on using Mavuno fertilizer and improved planting techniques for maize. Through the trainings, ARM is creating awareness of the benefits of the fertilizer and and promoting its usage. Mavuno is a compound, crop and soil specific nutrition based fertilizer. It reduces soil acidity and improves nutrient uptake by plants.
KMT is providing technical advice on effective marketing and farmer outreach activities. Rather than own the demo farms, the company identifies partner agrodealers who through local level partnerships own the demo farms. Agrodealers have the incentive to use the demo farms as reference points in encouraging farmers to use an alternative fertilizer from their shops. Additionally, Champion Farmers (farmers who always produce the best crop in their field, take up new innovations as quick as possible and are willing to train other farmers) have been trained to further spread education to other farmers. Through this model, ARM will be able to scale up the initiative, engage a large number of agrodealers and Champion Farmers in demo set up, thus benefit huge numbers of smallholders through education.
Other than receiving hands on skills on fertilizer application for optimum results, farmers are equipped with practical advice on how to handle ongoing agricultural challenges, climate smart agriculture and the benefits of testing their soils prior to application of Mavuno fertilizer.
Over 500 farmers in the two Counties have been trained directly through the demo farm days and indirectly through the Champion Farmers.
About Mavuno Fertilizer: After years of extensive research in collaboration with leading research organizations, including the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and the USA based International Fertilizer Development Centre, Mavuno Fertilizers were introduced in 2005. Further studies were carried out to understand soil fertility and nutrient deficiency. The findings led to the development of climate smart, soil specific and crop specific fertilizer formulations. With Mavuno Fertilizers, maize yields increase from an average of 20bags (1800kgs) per acre to 35bags (3150kgs) per acre.
Mavuno fertilizer contains 11 essential plant nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, among other key nutrients. The mineral elements are combined in various formulations and blends that create ‘tailor-made’ fertilizers that have been proven to give superior crop yields by over 40 per cent. Other than yields, the fertilizers improve soil fertility, rectify acidity and improve soil pH for higher crop production. Micronutrients present in Mavuno improve colour, taste, texture and nutrient value of produce.Today, Mavuno Fertilizers are improving incomes for both the family and commercial farmer. They are trusted to grow healthy crops from coffee, tea, rice and beans to barley, bananas, cotton and flowers. Mavuno Fertilizers are economical because of their high yields and environmentally friendly because they help to increase nitrogen fixation and reduce soil acidity. Mavuno is cost-effective and can be afforded by many farmers at their kiosks or supermarket at reasonable packaging of 1kg, 10kg, 25kg, and 50kg.