FAO improves electronic voucher system for Uasin Gishu farmers – Kenya News Agency
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) sponsored a farmer training program led by Kenya Management Information System (KIAMIS), an awareness program on the use of digital platforms, to reduce production costs in Uasin Gishu County.
About 25 farmers in Tapsagoi Ward, Turbo sub-county, are among the first beneficiaries of a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) training initiative, with support from the United Nations.
Uasin Gishu County Agriculture Director Julius Rotich said the move aims to provide farmers with access to agricultural inputs at a subsidized cost, in the right quantities and at the right time.
“We have had training which is more of an outreach and state review to check how far the system has gone in terms of implementation by putting all the farmers in our county under one platform which is KIAMIS “said Rotich.
The County aims to connect and manage farmers by helping them access agricultural inputs in the correct way and of the best certified quality.
The National Value Chain Support Program (NVCSP) has the mandate to verify on the system the challenges encountered by the system and the improvements made so far.
“This system will help Uasin Gishu farmers to exchange their vouchers and conversations with agricultural dealers and we are encouraging its roll-out to other sub-counties,” Rotich explained. The systems are designed to help farmers in the 30 wards of the county and Tapsagoi was chosen as a pilot program to verify the authenticity of the system.
The system was tested last year and there are a few challenges that require improvements to be made to further improve the system to perfection.
Some of the recommendations presented to developers include: delay in receiving payment messages, technical issues, and levying an electronic transaction surcharge.
The meeting was attended by agro-traders who provide inputs, farmers who benefited from the training, a team from Kilimo in charge of the program.
“The challenges can be explained this way, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) holds the account, we have Safaricom with M-pesa and often farmers will come and complain that the system is blocked. Safaricom’s message is available to the farmer but agro-traders have not yet received the message, a kind of ecosystem operation. So, the objective now is to bring these three players together on the same platform to receive transaction messages at the same time and to exterminate the period of time lived, ”he explained.
The program will be of great importance to the county should the national government provide a fertilizer and seed subsidy program.
The system will also help the county government through an extension program to solve their chronic problem of reaching and training farmers in rural areas.
Rotich said that with one click, they will be able to connect with farmers in the field to access information on challenges due to data available from registered farmers on one platform.
The county will use criteria to identify who is a farmer and categorize them into various categories such as value chain, land size such as large-scale farmers, medium-sized farmers, and small farmers.
The benefits of the system are that it will help the county understand the amount of agricultural inputs such as corn, avocados, coffee that will be produced and help farmers use the electronic voucher system. This will help both the national government and the county government to properly plan for the county’s food security and production day projection.
The Kenya Bureau of Standard (KEBS) provided estimate data and it does so after some time on food production estimates. The KIAMIS will be an accurate number instantly at the click of a button.
Another proposal aims to create an independent body that will regulate agricultural inputs such as the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) which has stabilized the oil market in the country. An independent entity will be able to solve the eternal challenge of the agricultural industry by protecting the farmers.
“FAO has been very supportive of the development of this software which has been successful in other countries, including Zambia, but needs to be modified to suit the Kenyan context,” Rotich reiterated.
By Hassan Adan Ali