Together with our partner in the Crop Seeds work, Agri-Experience, we developed the Mazao Forum, a convention that seeks to provide agro-dealers a platform to develop and network as distributors of crop seed and general inputs to farmers. The Forum is aimed at creating links within the agricultural industry and providing innovative and relevant solutions to challenges experienced by agro-dealers.
The first two Mazao Forums were held in Nairobi, with agro-dealers coming from the farming counties to look at issues nationally. However, with devolution coming in and seeking to take services closer to communities, stakeholders resulted to holding the conferences in their respective regions to discuss area specific issues for possible solutions.
Guided by feedback from the two previous forums, the attendees were taken through a range of topics including an update on the crop seed sector and ICT innovations which included showcasing MbeguChoice and the Seed Sector Platform Kenya and how agro-dealers can benefit from them. In addition, the invited speakers provided the agrodealers with insights into the entrepreneurial capabilities and potential. The agrodealers were also furnished with information on how to cushion their businesses and customers from the effects of climate change.
The first regional Mazao Forum was held on the 18th and 19th of February 2016 in Kisumu. For a day and a half, over 120 agro-dealers drawn from 12 counties across the western region, seed company representatives and local farmers met to hear from industry players and network. Eight seed companies exhibited at the forum.
Key industry regulatory bodies were also in attendance and spoke at the forum. These included representatives from the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), the Kenya Veterinary Board (KVB), the Pest Control Products Board (PCPB), Agrochemical Association of Kenya (AAK) and the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries (MoALF).
The representatives explored the various national and county regulations and licensing requirements and how they affect agrodealers and other industry stakeholders. Agrodealers were urged to support and work through county agrodealer associations to advocate for statutory reform at the county and national level.
From this forum the agrodealers agreed on the following as their way forward:
- The formation and strengthening of County Agrodealer Associations;
- Agrodealer ownership of Mazao forums with the aim of hosting and running the regional forums in the near future;
- Working collaboratively with regulatory bodies to ensure high standards in the industry are established and maintained.
The next regional Mazao Forum will be held in the central region and is slated for early March 2016 in Embu.