By KATTI Writer
Food Security and Nutrition is one of the pillars within the government’s ambitious Big Four Agenda.
This pillar bids to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture-Sustainable Development Goal (SDG2), and feed its growing population.
Despite its huge prospective, rural small scale, farmers still lack the capacity to fully explore their potential of realizing a higher harvest. This has been attributed to knowledge gap that exist between the government and small scale farmers.
Experts argue that in order to scale up small-scale farmer’s productivity, education and training will play a vital role in the realization of food security and nutrition.
“Our small-scale farmers are realizing low harvest year-year-out just because as a country we have ignored the importance of the agricultural extension officers; hence farmers are left on their own. This has affected the way farmer’s access to the relevant and accurate information that can helps them make a key decision regarding their farming activities,” Says Dr Richard Wekesa, Principal and CEO of Bukura Agricultural College.
Bukura College based in Kakamega County is one of the oldest government institutes’ that is propelling the training of agricultural workforce in Kenya and beyond. The institute offers twelve Agricultural training in both Diploma and Certificate.
Dr Wekesa adds “Currently we have a student population of 2,000 and with a state of the art workshop that ensures that they are trained hands-on- skills. Our training is 70 per cent practical and 30 per cent theory. Here we fully understand 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 World Bank Data shows that agricultural training is the foundation for many smallholder farmers today across the Sub Sahara Africa.
“As a country we killed our Agricultural Training Centers, which were vital in capacity building for both large-scale and small-scale farmers on various techniques of crops and livestock farming. As a college we fully understand and 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.” says John Suge, Acting Director, Academics Programme, Bukura Agricultural College.
Suge also reveals that the institute has also ventured into research as a way of creating solutions for local farmers. “We do have our internal research and innovation department that we have invested heavily to ensure we are at par with the industry.” The institute sits on 1500 acres parcel of land with a fully equipped yoghurt factory.
Dr Wekesa also revealed that the institute has partnered with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the training of personnel who will handle the desert locust menace that has hit the East African and Sahel region.
“Today as a country we are witnessing the unprecedented Desert Locust threat to food security and livelihoods in Kenya and East Africa region. This is the reason why we have partnered with the FAO to conduct a training that will help the entire region in building a national surveillance operations in order equip the team with control measures,” concludes Dr Wekesa.