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Harvesting Insights: Key Takeaways from the first two editions of Kakamega Governor's Day with Farmers

In a groundbreaking initiative, Kakamega County trail-blazed a process that annually unites farmers and policymakers, aptly referred to as "Governor's Day with Farmers" (GDF).

by Lilian Mukoche | 2024-01-24

Harvesting Insights: Key Takeaways from the first two editions of Kakamega Governor's Day with Farmers
Photo Credit: Kakamega County Government | Kakamega County Governor, FCPA, Fernandes Barasa (Centre), His Deputy, Hon. Ayub Savula (left) at a farmers' stand during the exhibition of the Second Governors' Day with Farmers

In a groundbreaking initiative, Kakamega County trail-blazed a process that annually unites farmers and policymakers, aptly referred to as "Governor's Day with Farmers" (GDF). Inaugurated in 2022, the pinnacle of this annual process occurs every 22nd of February.  

The Governor’s Day with Farmers was conceived as a way to empower smallholder farmers, including youth, and other marginalized groups. GDF seeks to provide a county-wide platform through which farmers can interact directly with political leaders and policymakers to articulate the challenges they face so that these issues can be incorporated in agricultural policy and program design. 

The GDF fosters a direct connection between the county government and farmers, yielding numerous positive outcomes. Not only does it provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and challenges, but it also facilitates:  

Policy Alignment: GDF serves as a conduit for policymakers to better understand the needs of farmers. This direct engagement enables the County government to tailor agricultural policies to address the specific challenges faced by the community. 

Technology Transfer: The GDF celebration event becomes a knowledge-sharing hub, where farmers learn from each other and other practitioners in farming, gaining insights into modern agricultural practices, technologies, and innovations.  

Strategic Resource Allocation: With firsthand interaction, the governor can assess the needs of different farming communities. This can aid in strategic resource allocation, ensuring that financial support, infrastructure, and agricultural inputs are directed to areas that need them the most. 

Community Empowerment: By recognizing and celebrating the efforts of farmers, the event boosts morale and a sense of community pride. It encourages farmers to take ownership of their roles in food security and economic development. 

Networking and Collaboration: Farmers get the opportunity to network with each other and with other partners in the agriculture sector, creating a supportive community. Additionally, partnerships between the government and private stakeholders may emerge, fostering collaborative efforts for the betterment of agriculture. 

What participants say 

During a workshop held on the 11th of January 2024 at Bukura Agricultural Training Centre, hosts and participants came together to take stock after two editions of the Governor’s Day with Farmers.  

In his opening remarks on behalf of Hon. Benjamin Andama, the County Executive Committee Member (CECM) in charge of Agriculture, Kakamega County Government, Mr. Emanuel Kariuki, the Chief Officer in charge of Cooperative Development Kakamega County noted that agriculture is the backbone of Kakamega County and its important that the sector is improved on. He highlighted the importance of paying attention to the key stakeholders who in this case are farmers: “We listen to farmers and from the reports, we can be able to better our programs and policies so as to address the needs of the farmers.” 

Violet Shivutse, Director of Shibuye Community Health Workers, and GDF host recalled the genesis of the platform: “As farmers we felt that there was a big challenge on how agricultural resources were being prioritized for farmers did not have a platform for them to engage with policymakers.” 

William Onura, TMG Research team member in Western Kenya, noted that the analysis TMG conducted last year showed that the GDF “has been an effective process bringing together the farmers and the policy makers.” Interview partners noticed that since the inauguration of the GDF farmers have been involved more effectively in agriculture sector dialogues than previously. 

Kenya National Farmers Federation (KENAFF) CEO, Dr. Daniel M. M’Mailutha, noted that the GDF should become a national outfit because farmers hold the economy of this country, and agriculture contributes an important percentage of the National GDP. He further emphasized holding the government to account and called upon all stakeholders from the ward, sub-county, and county levels to work as a team, ensuring that the process remains farmer-driven.  

A member of the Agriculture Committee of the Kakamega County Assembly, Hon. Jael Omunyang’oli encouraged working in collaboration with all partners to realize the objectives of the Governor’s Day with Farmers, adding that for accountability purposes, a monitoring and evaluation team must be created to make follow ups and take up surveys to check if GDF memorandums have been done after a certain financial year. 

Food and Nutrition Security is a big global concern and even enshrined in the Kenya’s Vision 2030 Agenda as one of its “Big Four” pillars. Similarly, the current government’s “Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Plan” has identified pathways for achieving agricultural transformation and inclusive growth that include” transforming 2 million poor farmers into surplus producers” and reducing dependence on basic food imports by 30 percent. 

In an effort to ensure the realization and transformation of our food systems, policy makers, researchers, and programme implementers are pondering on what to do to ensure all relevant stakeholders take part in the transformational processes. The Governors’ Day with Farmers could be one solution by giving farmers and the local communities a strong voice to articulate their issues.  

Read more about GDF here.

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