Kenya is marching on the path towards increased food security with increased uptake of Agriculture among its population. The annual National Farmers Awards are one of the morale boosters in the tough farming industry.
Described as ‘the one day farmers meet and enjoy themselves’ by the Agriculture cabinet secretary, the National Farmers Awards are a multi-stakeholders partnership led by Elgon Kenya Limited and the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture. The east African nation has been faced with food insecurity for many years, a threat that is still present in many parts of the country.
Unreliable weather patterns exacerbated by ever-dwindling rainfall amounts have made farming a big challenge for many. Water for irrigation is also not readily available. Many farmers whose farms are not near water bodies lack water for irrigation farming. Kenya has quite strict laws around water use especially when piped water meant for communal use is used in agriculture.
Changing the Landscape
The National Farmers Awards however is changing the farming environment in the country by recognizing and rewarding excellence and innovation. The awards are also lauded for providing a platform where farmers both young and old meet and share knowledge.
Youth in Kenya are also encouraged to take up agriculture via the awards. Previous awardees have included youth who have gone on to serve as role models and examples to their fellow youth. This is a positive step towards not only achieving food security in the country, but also a strategic economic booster for the East African powerhouse whose largest portion of the GDP is mainly agricultural or agriculture-related.
Started in 2013, the awards have grown from five categories to include;
- Small scale farm gearing to commercialization (less than Ksh 10m)
- Small scale farms fully commercialized (more than Ksh 10m)
- Large scale fully commercialized (more Ksh 50m)
- Small scale agro-input dealers (less than Ksh 5m)
- Large scale agro-input dealers (more than Ksh 5m)
- Women in Agriculture
- Youth in Agriculture
- Physically challenged persons in Agriculture
Effects on Winners
Former recipients of the awards speak in admiration of the awards initiative saying it has provided them with reinforcement to their belief that farming is important, profitable and doable.
In the last few years, both institutions such as the Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology, and individuals have contributed to increased agricultural output through research and innovations that aid farming.
The government through county governors in the devolved government model is also pumping a lot of financial resource towards improving agricultural output. Many Kenyan county governments are supporters and partners of the National Farmers Awards. The county governments are also dedicating manpower and other resources locally in their counties to empower farmers.
Availability of Solutions
Irrigation systems are now more available within the country. These irrigation innovations focus on use of renewable energy, minimum water wastage and incorporation of smart technologies to give farmers more control over how they use irrigation-related resources. One such innovation utilizes solar power to run a drip-irrigation system that can be remotely controlled via mobile phone.
Apart from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Office of the President is also a strong supporter of the National Farmers Awards. The President of Kenya has on several occasions over the years been involved in the awards ceremonies, often presenting the awards. Winners of the awards have expressed their joy after getting the opportunity to not only shake the president’s hand but also share a word or two with him.
A common ripple effect of the awards noted by winners is the increased visibility within the country and in their home counties. Winners have realized tremendous growth, better access to new markets for their products, ability to utilize new production methods and of course the feel-good effect that comes with winning a national award.
Be in the Awards
Applications to the awards are done early in the year, every year. The awarding ceremonies then takes place at the annual ASK (Agricultural Society of Kenya) show that is held in Nairobi (Nairobi ASK Show). To apply as a participant in the awards, follow updates from the official website. You will also receive information pertaining to the awards as a participant including the judging process.