PlantVillage Innovation Steals the Show at the EAGC Expo in Eldoret, Kenya

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PlantVillage bagged a certificate for being one of the key stakeholders in showcasing various climate-smart technologies, innovations, and practices for sustainable livelihoods at the recent Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) North Rift Agribusiness Expo held at the Eldoret National Polytechnic in Uasin Gishu County on November 19, 2022.

Officers from PlantVillage’s Dream Team Agroconsultancy Limited stole the show at the event, attracting thousands of farmers and agricultural officers from all over Kenya by showing off the various technologies the organization has innovated to empower the small-holder farmer.

The officers took the farmers through a series of learning sessions to help them understand the PlantVillage Nuru app, which involves the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology that enables farmers to link with their extension officers by use of smartphones, identify diseases and pests in their crops, and be able to get feedback on conservation agriculture through intercropping.

Participants were also educated on the importance of biochar as a soil amender, the practice of agroforestry to reduce soil erosion, and the control of fall armyworms through the use of parasitoids, as well as tips on farm hygiene.

Under the theme "Climate-smart Technologies and Practices for Sustainable Livelihoods," the expo provided opportunities for exhibitors to showcase and sell their products and services to a wide range of stakeholders.

EAGC Director, Other Leaders Laud PlantVillage's Innovation 

In his speech at the event, Gerald Makau Masila, Executive Director at EAGC, said that the agribusiness expo aimed at facilitating players in agribusiness to create contacts and explore new business opportunities while demonstrating best practices in value addition and processing of food to enhance food safety and reduce food wastage.

He added that the expo was a platform to demonstrate best practices for the production of crops through the crop demonstration farms that will, in turn, lead to improved agro-techniques for enhancing production, including planting techniques and fertilizer application; identification and management of pest and disease control; fertilizers and pesticides and their application, among others.

Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor, John Barorot, who was present at the event, commended PlantVillage for its incredible innovation and was amazed at the youthful team involved in activities that support agriculture.

"I am happy that the organization is playing a huge role in promoting agriculture. Engaging the youth in agricultural practices is a crucial role to unlock the potential of the agricultural sector," Governor John Barorot said.

Farmers Vow to Adopt the Innovations

Farmers were thrilled to walk home with knowledge and skills in agricultural production.

"I have learned about the use of parasitoids to control fall armyworms. For a long time, my maize farm has been affected by that pest, and I will be happy to benefit from the biological control method. I also hope to benefit from other services that the organization provides," said Robert Mulema, a farmer from Kakamega County.

"I have compost manure in my home, and I am going to try making biochar after learning about it. As a farmer, I request more training on using biochar as it is cheaper, unlike other inorganic fertilizers whose prices keep hiking," said John Mulema Kenya, a farmer from Uasin Gishu County.

Timothy Musakali Joash, chairman of the Owefwe Cooperative Society in Bungoma County, lauded PlantVillage for embracing the use of technologies such as parasitoids in fighting pests and diseases.

"I recommended the use of parasitoids on farm plantations. I am happy to have interacted with PlantVillage; they have promised to bring tree seedlings to our organization so that we can plant. I also invite them to partner with our group so that they can guide us more on farm practices," he said.

PlantVillage Rift Valley regional lead, Lawrence Ombwayo, said that continuous learning by farmers is essential to ensuring agricultural productivity.

"Our hope as PlantVillage is that the farmers we have trained today will return to their groups and train other members, including the youth, so that the knowledge is passed on to others for a collective change in the agricultural sector," he said.

The hallmark event, apart from PlantVillage, was sponsored by the Warehouse Receipt System Council (WRSC), Africa Grain Care Equipment (AGCE), the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), and the Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC).

The PlantVillage team had a chance to interact and share ideas on smart farming with other key stakeholders, including the African Seed Company (SEED-CO), Pest Control and Produce Board (PCPB), Afex Fair Trade Kenya, Mkulima Shupavu, Food Quality and Safety, Kenya National Genetic Resource Center, and Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services.

- Written by Mercy Achieng

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