National Farmers Awards 2017 opens for applications

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Front row; Oserian Flowers Managing Director Neil Heilings, Agriculture CS Willy Bett, Elgon Kenya Director Bimal Kantaria, BASF East Africa Managing Director Carles Amengual and Sampath Kumal Excel Crop Care during gala dinner
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Oserian Development Company Managing Director Neil Hellings was heard quipping, “For me the highlight of this event is that farmer on the wheelchair. He should challenge everyone who can walk on their feet yet they are not receiving an award for farming tonight”.

March 1, 2017, Nairobi.2017 is the fifth anniversary of the National Farmers Awards. The process of picking winners this year kicks off this month with the circulation of application forms.

The awards are organized by agriculture inputs supplier Elgon Kenya Limited in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock & Fisheries and county governments.

Elgon Kenya head of communications Nelson Maina said the fifth edition of the scheme is an indication the awards have grown to be an important event in the country’s farming calendar since the inaugural winners were honoured in 2013.

“The launch of this year’s awards comes at a time when more farmers and county governments continue expressing growing interest in the awards that have grown in status and numbers”, said Mr Maina.

Winners in eight categories will be named in the last quarter of the year. The segments are:-

• Large-scale farm
• Large Scale Agro Dealer
• Small-Scale Farm Gearing Towards Commercialization
• Small Scale Farmer Fully Commercialized
• Small Scale Agro Input Dealer
• Youth in Agriculture
• Women in Agriculture
• Physically Challenged
Winners in the youth, women and physically challenged are rewarded by the President at the Nairobi International Trade Fair followed by a gala dinner with top national and county government officials for all the winners in Nairobi.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett describes the awards ceremony as ‘the only time farmers come together to enjoy themselves’.

Last year recorded the highest number of farmers who applied for the awards with over 50,000 applications received, up from 30,000 in 2015 and 8,000 in the pioneer year.
Mr Maina added that county governments are supporting the awards through judging at the respective regional level.

The number of categories has also expanded from five in 2013 to the current eight. The person with disability category was the highlight of last year’s ceremony, with winners being feted for surmounting numerous odds to create agribusinesses. Oserian Development Company Managing director Neil Hellings was heard quipping, “For me the highlight of this event is that farmer on the wheelchair. He should challenge everyone who can walk on their feet yet they are not receiving an award for farming”.

The rare feat of shaking the president’s hand as winners has motivated more farmers to inject extra energy and passion in their ventures as they too aim for a date with the president.

Meeting the president, shaking his hand and having a conversation with him has remained one of the hallmarks of this awards for the lucky winners. That image has been a huge inspiration to many farmers in who want to be like the winner.

It is always an honour inspiring farmers,” saidShelmith Wanjiku, last year’s winner in the women category, echoing most of the ‘Presidents Farmers” as the champions have come to be called by their neighbours.

Some 23 winners were feted in an interesting mix that captured how good practices in agriculture had permeated across the country with winners emerging from counties like Marsabit, Nyamira, Nyeri, Isiolo, Nyamira, Kisumu, Laikipia and Kericho among others.

Past winners lives have been transformed with fame and status following them. “Since I was announced among the winners I have become a model farmer attracting dozens of farmers who want to be like me. I managed to organize the farmers into a group and we now run a value addition business that is the talk of town.

Banana farmers in Vihiga no longer worry about their produce going bad or thinning incomes. That’s an avenue that was charted by the Elgon Kenya awards,” said Margaret Amimo the first runners up in the women in agriculture category of the 2014 awards.

“With these awards we seek to return dignity to the soils and reward a constituency that works tirelessly to keep the country fed despite all the odds,” said Bimal Kantaria, Elgon kenya managing director and awards patron Bimal Kantaria.

The Ministry of Agriculture Livestock &Fisheries and Elgon Kenya Limited are the main sponsors of the awards. Other sponsors include Nation Media’s Seeds of Gold, BASF, Bayer East Africa, Du Pont, Arysta Lifescience and Exel Crop Care Ltd.

Application forms will be available at Nation Center and Nation Media group bureau offices, and county agriculture offices.

They can also be downloaded at:

    www.kilimo.go.ke
    www.elgonkenya.com
    www.hortinews.co.ke

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