On February 13, the second day of the mid term review consortium meeting, the group of InnovAfrica stakeholders, attending the meeting via video conference from Nairobi embarked on a field tour to Kirinyaga county.

The group was composed of members of the Scientific Expert Advisory Panel (SEAB), members from KALRO, BecA-ILRI Hub, Wageningen University and Research and ILRI.

Led by Dr Njarui, the first stop was at the Kirinyaga County Government office, where the team visited the office of Hon Dr Jackan Gutu, County Executive, Agriculture, Livestock, Vet & Fisheries. and Chief Officer, Mr Johnson Ndege.

The meeting served as a conversation that explored different collaborative efforts between InnovAfrica and the county government, and proved to be both insightful and informative.Dr Gutu spoke on their continued efforts towards quality animal and fish feed in the county, and their focus on building the capacity of women and youth along vocational training in agriculture in the county. He introduced the concept of an initiative called Wezesha that is geared towards driving agricultural productivity in women and youth groups.

The team meet with Hon Dr Jackan Gutu (front middle) and Mr Johnson Ndege (back row, third from left) at the Kirinyaga county offices

Both Dr Gutu and Mr Ndege have noted a significant and encouraging peak in interest in agriculture as a revenue source amongst the youth in the county. They expressed continued interest in Brachiaria farming, stating that it has been encouraging to watch the drought resistant grass fair so well in both the warm and the cooler parts of the county. They have plans of expanding the acreage growing Brachiaria grass and are introducing it to farmers through institutions such as the Kirinyaga Agricultural Training Centre.

The group, accompanied by Chief Officer Mr Johnson Ndege, proceeded to monitor the progress of several implementation activities taken on by farmers growing Brachiaria grass in the region. The farmers, each took the group through their farming practices with Brachiaria and their experience with the grass through the changing seasons. They reported positive feedback stating that the grass’s adaptable nature was favourable to them and their livestock. Brachiaria grass was introduced to these farmers in March 2018.

The team listen to a youth farmer describe his farming practices with Brachiaria grass

The group’s final stop was at Kamweti Farmers Training Centre, a training institution that builds on the skills of farmers in the region in different farming practices including Brachiaria grass. The farm manager spoke on the emphasis he continues to place on quality feeds and forages and on his positive experience with Brachiaria. He led the group on a quick tour of the training centre that ended with a shed piled high with bales of harvested Brachiaria grass.

Brachiaria bales stacked high in the shed at Kamweti Farmers Training Centre

“Brachiaria is showing us the way to go with respect to dairy nutrition.”

– Faustoh Mariah, Farm Manager, Kaweti Farmers Training Centre, Kirinyaga