Agricultural training key in realization of food security
In a bid to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture-Sustainable Development Goal (SDG2), and feed its growing population, the Kenya government launched the ‘Big Four Agenda’. Among the pillars within this four-year plan are Food Security and Nutrition.
However, experts argue that to scale up small scale farmer’s productivity, education and training will play a vital role in the realization of food security and nutrition.
“When you look at the agricultural sector in post-independence we were doing great and the sector supported the entire economy but this has drastically changed because we neglected the agricultural training and this has affected the farmers across the country because they don’t have access to the relevant and accurate information that helps them make a key decision regarding their farming activities. This is where we come in as an institute. Mawego Technical Training Institute
We are not just driving the training of agricultural experts who will work with the farmers across the country by ensuring that our farmers have access to accurate agricultural knowledge,” says Mr John Akola, Principal, Mawego TTI.
Over the years the institute has offered Higher Diploma, Diploma and Certificate in Agricultural area.
Akola says that “Our agricultural training curriculum has been approved by the TVET Curriculum Development Assessment and Certificate Council [TVET/CDACC] since we aim to make sure that we meet the current industrial need. We have also partnered with several stakeholders within the agricultural sector to ensure that we produce well competent graduates who are ready for the job market.”
The Institute has a 3 -year Agricultural Engineering, General Agriculture and Horticulture training in Diploma courses.
Apart from the Diploma courses they also offer short courses in Artificial Insemination and Agricultural extension services.
According to Deputy Principal Administration, Jared Ogot, the agricultural subject has largely been downplayed in the formal education system, where it has been scraped off from the primary school syllabus and is only an optional subject at the secondary level and this has impacted our agricultural sector.
“As an Institute, we realized the importance of agricultural knowledge to farmers and that’s why we have adopted modern training technique that ensures that our students are also linked to the job market. What makes us stand out is that we fully understand the agricultural value chain and that’s the reason why we have so many students enrolling for agricultural courses on a full time and also on a short time basis. We also allow the community around the institute to partner with us and our students to work with them in their different farms. The Institute has also a parcel of land where students have practical since our training is 70 per cent practical and 30 per cent theory, “comments Ogot.
The World Bank Data shows that agricultural training is the foundation for many smallholder farmers today across the Sub Sahara Africa.
“It’s no doubt that we killed our Agricultural Training Centers, they are key in capacity building for both large-scale and small-scale farmers on various techniques of crops and livestock farming. This is the main reason why Mawego Institute stands out since we have mastered the art of agricultural training and also made it very attractive to the youth who view agricultural training as an old and outdated profession. We have Agribusiness as a course where most youth are pursuing at the institute. This has helped us overcome the poor perception among the locals and it's now paying out. One of our graduate who pursued Agribusiness as the course has now ventured into edible rat farming and he is now doing great,” says Asha Bakari, Deputy Principal Academics.
She added that the institute has also ventured into research as a way of creating solutions for local farmers. “We do participate in the regional KATTI Robotic TVET Fair but also we have our internal research and innovation department that we have invested heavily to ensure we are at par with the industry.”
The institute boasts a three ultra-modern workshop namely; Tractor, Lathe Machine and Soil Analysis workshops. To blend theory classes with practical, the institute has a 3-acre parcel of land for maize plantation, food produce farm, Rabbit farm, 2 fish ponds and a dairy farm.
Despite offering top class agricultural training, the institute is faced with several challenges among them the extreme weather condition related to the region.
Mr Akola adds that: “The harsh weather condition has greatly impacted on our farming activities and the institute has a water treatment plant that cost the institute a huge sum of money to run and maintain. Poor road infrastructure is another vital challenge that faces us, we are 10 KM away from the main highway road and accessing the institutions during rainy seasons it a nightmare for our students. The other thing is that we have inadequate trainers within the institution.”