The InnovAfrica project has undertaken the set up of two VKCs in Kenya and in Tanzania. The project introduced this innovation to Africa after learning about VKC’s in India.
“Kii ni kisese kiseo kya kunengana uvoo kwa andu maitu”, (this is a good avenue for disseminating information to our local community), a local Chief visiting the VKC in Kenya’s Kangundo village commented.
Approximately 440 people (farmers, extensions agents and other stakeholders) have visited the VKC so far to seek information on crop and livestock-related activities in Kangundo. Of these, 29% were women. Additionally, more than 350 farmers made requests and were supplied Brachiaria seeds through the VKC.
In a County forum organized by the Deputy County Commissioner and the sub-County administrator, for the local administrators, five chiefs from Isinga, Kangundo central, Kathaani, Kitwi and Matetani locations visited the VKC. Chiefs are important stakeholders, who further disseminate the knowledge gained through the VKC and potentially create a larger impact.
A WhatsApp Group titled ‘Grow Brachiaria Grass’ was formed in September 2018. The group has currently has 148 members consisting of farmers who cultivate Brachiaria grass, extension officers, members of the NGO community and scientists.
Since its formation, it has shared approximately 1080 messages. In one of the message a farmer stated, ‘Previously I used to feed Napier grass mixed with Rhodes grass. Two weeks ago, the same animal produced an average of 34 kgs of milk. After feeding it Brachiaria, it produced 39 kgs of milk’. From another farmer, ‘My cows survived through the dry season. Thanks to Brachiaria’. These messages motivate other farmers to adopt Brachiaria grass for livestock feed. The scientists also disseminate weather information and important agricultural events such as agricultural shows and field days through WhatsApp.
Thanks to Brachiaria grass my cows survived through the dry season. – farmer
The Village Knowledge Centre (VKC) was established at Ilenge Ward Resource Centre in Ilenge Village, Rungwe District in Mbeya Region, Tanzania as part of InnovAfrica Project.
So far, the extension agent/ or knowledge worker stationed at the VKC has provided advisory services to more than 100 livestock and crop farmers. The VKC additionally maintains Brachiaria demo plots at the Ward Resource Centre and Primary School for farmer exposure and training to learn about Brachairia forage and scale-out the technology.
Farmers’ groups supported by Heifer International and ASAS are using the services at Ilenge VKC. A group of livestock and crop farmers were established and meet every Thursday from 11:00am to 12:30pm to discuss and share success stories and challenges in their enterprises. The VKC has received research teams from the University of Dar es Salaam on their field visits. 50 crop farmers and livestock keepers and 20 visitors who are neither crop nor livestock farmers have also visited the VKC to learn how it is managed.
Following initiatives at the District level, a youth group is getting support to produce vegetables using a Greenhouse established at the Ward Resource Centre, which also hosts the VKC. The youth group uses the facilities at the VKC to access relevant information on vegetable production.