By Bob Aston
An informative field day took place at Peter Chege’s farm in Wangwachi area of Ol-Moran Ward, Laikipia West Sub County on 12 November, 2015. Agrifood actors gathered in the area for a field day that addressed ways to enhance farmer production skills and deliberate on how farmers can play an active role in the tomato value chain.
The Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MOALF), and Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society organized the field day to enable farmers to share their experiences and interact with various value chain actors.
The field day enabled farmers to learn good agronomics practices, value addition, production practices, agribusiness, soil management, marketing, integrated pests and disease management, value addition, Farm Records Management Information System(FARMIS),SOKO+sms platform and harvesting and post-harvest management. It also provided farmers with a platform to interact with agricultural sector stakeholders and expose them to new technologies and ideas.
Farmers were able to interact and gain knowledge on tomato value addition by making tomato jam, juice and tomato sauce. This will go a long way in increasing their productivity, quality and earnings.
Wangwachi, Marura, Ol-Mutuny, Ndaragwiti, Monica, and Karungubii are main tomato producing areas in the ward due to availability of dams in the areas. Ol-Moran ward produces close to 100 tonnes of tomato per season with around 40 acres under tomato cultivation.
However, farmers rarely get an opportunity to interact, share best practices, and address challenges that they face. ALIN and partners are keen in addressing constraints during production, marketing, processing, and consumption of tomato.
ALIN has been involved in improving communities’ access to knowledge and skills by using platforms like field days. These experiences have helped farmers to access knowledge and information, which have helped to empower many farmers in arid areas.