Does Agricultural Research Deliver?

Flash back to 2007

Am seated in an agronomy class in my first year stay in campus and the lecturer in front is talking about  extension officers and their link to helping improve agriculture which happens to be the backbone of our economy..My mind clouds with thoughts and I hear the lecturer saying tidbits about …training…advise..

Extension officers?  Wait a minute! Agricultural extension officers? Who are they? What do they do?  Whom are they supposed to help/advise/train?

Prior to joining Egerton University to study a Bachelor of agribusiness management, I had never come across agricultural extension officers, where I grew up, in Nanyuki, Kenya! Never mind its vast grassland area which supports a range of livestock. Basic knowledge on the importance of deworming animals was lacking causing farmers to give the animals a homemade concoction of boiled Aloe Vera and boiled tree twigs. The result? Deterioration of animals health and subsequent death.

This led me to volunteer during holidays as an extension officer with the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of livestock Development in the Coast province to learn bits about extension advice. With participation in extension officers’ field days, I learnt a lot and took part in information dissemination to farmers in the coastal areas specifically on the Nerica rice variety which does well in arid areas and improved bee keeping methods. Later on I replicated my knowledge and still I am, to farmers in Nanyuki with the help of the administration authorities.

Flash forward to 2012

I am seated on my desk watching the video of Joseph Kaguatha narrate his farming ordeals in Lari District of Kenya. And I fully understand what he says. Just like other rural farmers, he faces the common challenges in his subsistence farming trade:

  • Dependence on rain fed agriculture
  • Land subdivision and fragmentation resulting to lower land productivity hence food insecurity at the household level.
  • Lack of extension advice from the agricultural extension officers placed at district levels.
  • Lack of new technologies in farming e.g.  Water harvesting or alternatives water sources for agricultural purposes.
  • Agricultural researches not reaching the intended beneficiary hence no impact felt at ground i.e. the rural farmers

All is not lost and Joseph believes these challenges could be solved if partnership is maintained between the research institutions, government extension officers and the farmers.

The second Global Conference on Agricultural Research and development (GCARD2) happening in Uruguay seeks to address among others the theme of Partnership and its relation to agricultural research for Development. Do join the proceedings form 29th October to 1st November online, and highlight any issue you feel is affecting you or other farmers in any Agricultural related field.

This blogpost is written by Emmie Kio, one of our GCARD2 social reporters.


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