Read full article @AfricaHarvest PC: SOMNI
The fortunes of sorghum and millet farmers and other value chain players in the arid and semi-arid areas of eastern and western Kenya are rapidly changing for the better as a result of the introduction of improved crop varieties, training on good agronomic practices and mechanization under the Strengthening Sorghum and Millet Value Chains for Food, Nutritional and Income Security (SOMNI) Project.
By the end of the first half of 2019, the Project had made significant progress and impact. It was able to train 16 youth to operate and maintain 8 fabricated sorghum and millet threshers in eastern Kenya. The maintenance and operation of the mechanized threshers is not only providing much needed employment and income to these youths but is also reducing drudgery for farmers and resulting in improved grain quality that is attractive and required by the growing markets.
During the period, the project also established 67 participatory variety and hybrid selection trials in 55 villages, 31 sub locations of the 11 project wards in 11 sub-counties reaching about 3,350 beneficiaries. These community members were also sensitized on the different crop cultivars, good agronomy and utilization per site. Relatedly, 3,927 beneficiaries benefited from 7,060 kg of quality seed distributed in addition to training that was provided to 2,664 farmers on production and productivity enhancement which included; seed selection, land preparation, soil management, seed rate, spacing and inter-cropping, weed, pest and disease management, thinning and gaping, harvesting and post-harvest handling all aimed at ensuring farmers get a good crop for food and for sale as surplus. This training will be followed by another on value addition and utilization, enterprise development and produce marketing (collective marketing) later in the year.
The SOMNI Project which is in its third year, is impacting farmer groups, youth, aggregators, agro-dealers and other development partners in eight counties in Kenya (eastern Kenya – Makueni, Kitui, Meru, Machakos and Tharaka Nithi and in western Kenya – Homabay, Siaya and Busia). It is being implemented by the International Center for Research in Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and Africa Harvest in partnership with Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and the county Ministries of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries. The Project is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).