Our teams across Africa and Asia are providing practical help to farmers during the pandemic. For Agriservices colleagues in Kenya, sensitization, aggregation, and extension are all part of the response. Our young network of Farmers’ Hubs plays a key role.
The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting agricultural value chains worldwide and thus threatening food security. The many vulnerable populations include smallholders. In Kenya, the onset of COVID-19 coincided with the start of the ‘long rains’, just when farmers were setting out to plant. “The need to limit people’s movements and restrict gatherings is affecting access to inputs and extension services at a critical time”, comments George Osure, our East African Regional Director.
The Syngenta Foundation is helping wherever it can. Here are four examples from our Farmers’ Hubs in Nyandarua and Nakuru:
Sensitization on COVID-19 and hygiene practices to safeguard farmers
“The Hubs are alerting farmers to COVID-19 and advising them on hygiene practices to keep themselves safe”, explains George Osure. “Some such centers have gone a step further and ensured they have re-usable masks for sale. These are otherwise often hard to find in the villages. Hub workers also instruct farmers on how to disinfect the masks before using them.”
Aggregation of farmer input orders
The Hubs also take input requests from local growers and place bulk orders with suppliers. “This has two advantages”, explains Stella Kimani from our Agriservices team. “It both helps reduce movement to the shops and lowers costs through bulk discounts and transport savings.”
Hub workers have also demonstrated their own ability to adapt to the new public health situation. “To ensure they can continue to serve customers promptly, they wear masks and regulate physical distance”, Stella adds.
Extension via farm visits
As well as services like spraying and mechanization services, Farmers’ Hubs also offer on-farm advice. As Stella says: “Bringing extension closer to individual growers not only avoids large group sessions. It also helps the training really ‘land’ and meet specific needs.”
Targeted demo sites
“In collaboration with partners like Agrico East Arica, Yara (fertilizer), Huangzhou Chemicals, Murphy Chemicals, and Agrocares, our team is busy setting up demo sites at the Farmers’ Hubs in Nyandarua and Nakuru. The goal is to host much smaller farmer groups than at usual Field Days before the pandemic. Keeping to government regulations on social gatherings, we’ll be hosting just a few people per session. That way, we can personally show them new seed technologies and good agronomic practices.”
Read the original version of that article here.