Date: 20th August 2018
For seven years now, the University of Eldoret has been hosting one of the most successful Agribusiness trade fairs in the Country. The University’s vision of being a premier University that is globally recognized in knowledge generation and technological innovation is manifested in this event. The Northern Rift is recognized for its role in the contribution to food security in the country. It boasts of a mix of all the three categories of farmers; the large, medium and small-scale farmers. The medium and small-scale farmers have well been represented in the trade fair through most of the services, technologies and innovations showcased. However, for a long time, the presence of large-scale farmers has not been felt in the annual event creating concern that the University may be leaving out a very important segment of the community.
Against this background, the University through the office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Planning, Research and Extension organized a large-scale farmer’s forum at the University’s Outreach Centre as a side event during its 7th (2018) Agribusiness trade fair. The objective of the event was for the University to engage the large-scale farmers in the region and to brainstorm in ways that they can be involved in the annual event while seeking opportunities for future collaborations.
The participants were taken through five presentations from panelists, moderated by Prof. David Some and Dr. Benjamin Mwasi, both from UOE. The panelists were drawn from the University of Eldoret-Prof Julius Ochuodho, Coteva Agriscience Agrochemicals-Mr. Francis Ndung’u, The Dairy Industry represented by Mr. Charles Boit, Agribusiness sector, represented by Mr. Felix Kili and Koppert Biological Sciences- Mr. Charles Macharia.
Discussions centered on the activities and mandate of the five institutions and ways in which they can contribute to achieving food security in the Country and region. Issues discussed include agriculture as a business, economies of scale to be considered in agribusiness, mechanization of agriculture and the benefits thereof, use of new and innovative agricultural technologies such as precision agriculture for increased production, how to handle emerging issues such as climate change, etc. After the presentations, participants were invited to ask questions or seek clarifications from the presenters.
As way forward, the participants agreed on the following:
- Formation of an online group specifically for the large-scale farmers for interaction and information sharing
- Partnership with other companies like John Deere be initiated
- Mini-collaboration between large-scale farmers, the university, input and technology providers such as seed and agrochemical companies to demonstrate on 25 acres of land during the Agribusiness trade fair event; the land to be provided by the University. It was agreed that more engagements with the large-scale farmers were necessary as their contribution to food security cannot be ignored.