It was a sight to behold when farmers from different parts of Kitui came together to celebrate the completion of a full year training on Farm Forestry in the various fields in Agro-Forestry. The chilly morning air could not dampen the high spirits as they started the morning with songs and dance when they boarded the KFS Bus that was taking them to the appointed site for the graduation.
On hand to welcome the guests from the Assistant Zonal Manager for Kitui Mr. Riungu, the Area District Officer M/s …who represented the Provincial Administration in the area. She was flanked by the DO Kalimani, DO Mutomoni, the chiefs and assistant chiefs from the area. The guests from Nairobi were the Deputy Director, M/s Monicah Kalenda who heads the Extensions Services where such programmes fall under, the Director of KFS was represented by Ag. DD– Plantation & Enterprise Boniface Wekesa, who was the chief guest at the occasion , Mr. Oscar Simanto – Head of Extension Management KFS, M/s Jane Ndeti – Head of SCBFFE project, Mr. John Ngugi the Programmes Officer from JICA, and Mr. Ren Fujimura (Mutua) – a volunteer from Tsavo West National Park.
There were 3 different farmers graduating in the 5th FFS from the different areas in Kitui, namely Meeko FFS ( meaning - Actions), Katitika FFS (Meaning – Dam) and Ngavande ( Meaning – plant) which was the host FFS. The site was at a Primary School in Matinyani Division. Each group had several presentations that they had to show on what they had learnt in the past year, the pros and cons of their projects. Basically, all the groups had practiced the PDT ( Participatory Technology Development) with the mango tree plantation being their projects of choice, which they gave in-depth analysis detailing how different species of Mango Trees (Kent, Tommy and Apple Species) performed in the various areas since germination to maturity considering that they were intercropped with trees and farm produce. The Kent species of the Mango generally outdid the other species in the growth and the produce and it emerged tops as the most preferred species to be grown by the farmers in the region.
When the guests curiosity was sated and the all the questions answered, the guests were called upon for a jig with the graduating farmers. There was a light moment when Mr. Wasike was called upon to dance with the farmers. After song and dance, there were speeches from the guests who generally encouraged the farmers to put into practice what they had learnt in FFS.M/s Ndeti told the participants that there was project to be launched in the near future which will include the FFS. She encouraged the graduads to keep networks with the previous graduands. Madam Kalenda thanked the farmers for their dedication and gave out the importance of farmers’ participation in the tree planting in the country as the increase in the forest cover from the current 2% to 10%.
It was a revelation that in FFS was the pilot project of JICA in Kenya which encourages farmers’ participation in tree planting and environmental conservation and which at the same time empowers the farmers. She thanked the director through his representative Mr. Wasike for proving that the project was not a waste of resources. She invited the Mr. Wasike who introduced himself and gave out the concept behind P&E (Plantation and Enterprise) as a project that encourages intercropping with trees if possible and as a former Head of Inventory, he was in a position to give facts that the project was very viable to curb the climate change and to help increase the forest cover in the country. He also told them that the issued certificates to the farmers were a way of KFS appreciating the farmers’ conservation effort in the country. After the event the farmers were all smiles as they headed home to incorporate theory into practice.
Story Courtesy Rahab Gitau