IKEA Foundation funded Veggies for People and Planet project completes training for 'vegetable coaches'
The project aims to bridge the 'vegetable gap' in Kenya and Ethiopia while creating jobs, increasing income and at the same time improving nutrition. This will be accomplished by working towards a strong and competitive vegetable sub-sector through a combination of supply and demand interventions on Traditional African Vegetables. Vegetable Business Networks (VBNs) have been adopted as a pathway for advancing regenerative agricultural technologies transfer to the communities.
In the project’s first year, 51 VBNs have been assessed and selected; 31 for the Kisumu region and 20 for the Nairobi region. The VBN’s as target beneficiaries of the project selected a person each to be trained as a vegetable business coach. The business coaches will in turn train the members of their respective VBN’s on regenerative agriculture, vegetable production climatic requirements, vegetable crop protection (pest and disease control), VBN leadership, gender and social inclusion, vegetable seed systems, vegetable post-harvest management, group formation and dynamics, soil and water management, record keeping, production economics and gross margin analysis of selected crops.
During the training, the business coaches were also introduced to various irrigation infrastructure and bio pesticides for regenerative vegetable production. The training incorporated a crop walk to a vegetable garden to identify crop pests/diseases and regenerative control measures brought in practically for effectiveness. To further enhance the training, a participatory approach was adopted. In this, steps on preparation of compost were demonstrated together with vermicomposting as a regenerative technology. Other soil conservation measures such as cover cropping, crop rotation, mulching and contour ploughing were also identified. To further enhance the experience of first-hand vegetable marketing and post-harvest management, a visit to the nearby Bukura Market, Kakamega county was organised.
Action planning focusing on activities to be carried out by each VBN characterised the climax of the trainings. At the closing ceremony, certificates were presented to the vegetable business coaches and seeds distributed; based on the VBN’s prioritisation. Speaking during the closing ceremony the Project Manager, Leah Mwaura, encouraged the business coaches to practice what they learnt and share it with their group members.
As the project activities progress, two major partners have been onboarded to enhance and support grassroots training of VBN members. Rural Outreach Africa for Kisumu region and ACE integrated Services for Nairobi region. Rural Outreach Africa’s priority is to address the rampant malnutrition in rural areas of Western Kenya through promoting indigenous crops, improving soil fertility and innovating smallholder farming techniques. ACE Integrated Services offers training on irrigation and drilling, farm planning and management and agronomy cognizant of the vision of the farmer. SNV and WVC will support the two firms in research, coaching and mentoring and regular monitoring and evaluation to ensure successful implementation and maximum benefit to the VBNs.
“We would like to appreciate the contribution of other stakeholders who participated actively during the trainings; Martin Barare-Lead trainer (World Vegetable Centre), Ben Momanyi (JKUAT), James Ndambuki (KALRO), John Ngigi (Grekkon LTD) for Nairobi region and Alvin Otieno (Pals Agriculture), Pamela Mahila (Chief Officer Agriculture, Vihiga County), Peter Bor (KEPHIS), John Katila (REAL IPM), Herbet Ambani (Grekkon LTD) and John Makau (Ministry of Agriculture Kakamega County) for Kisumu region.” Jeremiah Rogito: Project Officer for the Veggies 4 Planet & People project (SNV) based in Eldoret.