Advice in the Field

Direct advice and information for farmers in Kenya

In most parts of rural Kenya, there is a lack of centres providing advice on ecological farming and the associated training. Experience has shown that the "Field Officers" employed in those areas do not visit local farmers very often and in some cases almost never. In addition, for farmers wishing to visit an advice centre, it often means a time-consuming and expensive journey because transport links are poor. To bridge this gap, Biovision has opened 11 information centres in Kenya, in some cases in cooperation with its partners. To facilitate access to training, specialists from these centres meet farmers in their home villages and support the development of an effective network of farmer groups, who then continue the training and exchange information.

Advice in the Field is a project of the Farmer Communication Programme (FCP).

Agricultural adviser Veronica Wamiti visits local small-scale farmers and provides practical tips on the application of ecological farming methods

Objective

To provide advice locally to small-scale farmers and so ensure continuing access to the latest, relevant information and scientific knowledge on ecological farming.

Relevance

In Africa, ecological farming means something different than it does in Europe: For many farmers, the cost of conventional agriculture using pesticides and fertilisers is prohibitive making ecological farming a vital alternative. These impoverished farmers need information and advice on how to increase yields without a major investment. The appetite for knowledge is enormous because education and training in agriculture is non-existent in many parts of Africa.

Beneficiaries

A total of 87,424 people have benefited from local advice. In the current project phase (2016 - 2018), 90,000 farmers will receive intensive training in ecological farming. In the previous project phase (2013 - 2015), 183,640 farmers benefited from such training. Many others had access to practical information on ecological farming through practical training sessions, agricultural shows and field days organised by the information centres. There have also been a series of exchange visits between individual farmer groups and farmers are also linked to private organisations in order to improve access to markets.

Objectives 2016 - 2018

  • Strengthen the system of knowledge transfer and training systems on ecological methods of farming so that a minimum of 200,000 people (farmers and young people) can benefit from them by the end of 2018
  • Support networking by social institutions, other FCP projects and other partners in order to improve the dissemination of knowledge.
  • Monitor and evaluate the quality of advice and access to it by user groups in the period up to 2018
  • Develop measuring techniques in order to improve the financial sustainability of the information centres

Achievements

There are now 11 Biovision information centres offering a wide range of information on ecological farming. Specialist advisers have been trained and they now visit local villages to provide training to farmers unable to attend information centres. In particular, they provide training opportunities for local women who are not only responsible for work on the farm but also child care. The project Advice in the Field has also featured in the weekly radio broadcasts on TOF Radio and the monthly TOF Farmer Magazine. This has prompted an increasing number of farmers to contact the information centres seeking training in sustainable agriculture.